Budget approval brings Jews in Ethiopia a step closer to Israel

A member of the Falashmura Jewish Ethiopian community carries her baby on her back before attending the Passover prayer service, in the synagogue in Gondar, Ethiopia. April 22, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Israel’s two year budget earmarks funds for the immigration and resettling of 1,300 Ethiopian Jews

It has been a while since activists have been campaigning to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Now, they are a little closer to their goal, as Israel approves budget last Friday. The Finance ministry has allocated a budget that would enable 1300 Jews to perform Alliah, the return trip to Israel.

Even though the trip to Israel could resume as early as November 2016, it is said, with a rate of one hundred people per month, the activists are not holding their breath. The reason for that is because there have been many delays before. For instance, the state of Israel approved ninety people to make the trip to Israel three years ago, but they still remain in Ethiopia.

The state of Israel has been very selective about the whole process. Even though there are around 9000 Jews in Ethiopia, most of them having first degree relatives in Israel, they been denied Alliah for the sole reason of “not being Jewish enough”. That being said, Gezahagn Dereve and Demoz Deboch, youth leaders from Ethiopia’s Jewish community in Gonder who are currently in America on a speaking tour trying to raise awareness, still remain hopeful. Deboch said the decision was a step in the right direction. “But it’s only 1,300, and there are 9,000 Jews,” he said. “The second thing is — they decided, so why not start it today? Why even wait a week? We don’t want to see decisions, we want to see people making aliyah,” he said. “Many times we’ve heard that they’ve said they’re bringing some people, 1,000 people this year, or something like that, but they’re just talking, they’re not doing anything,” he said. “And what is this 1,300? There are 9,000 Jews. Does this mean that my mom can go, but my sister can’t?”