An Ethiopian Jewish man. Photo from Pinterest.
I would like to draw your attention to a very important Memorial Day here in Israel which many people do not know about. Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who Perished on their Way to Israel is celebrated on the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar, which begins tonight.
“A mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews (“Beta Israel”) took place in the years 1980 – 1984, from their villages in the area of Gundar and through Sudan. Many of them, who dreamt for many years of making Aliyah to Israel, managed to flee Ethiopia and arrive at the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, where they waited in provisional camps to make Aliyah. The passage through Sudan was made possible by an unspoken agreement, only known to a few senior officials in Sudan. Agents of the Mossad awaited the immigrants at the Sudanese border and instructed them to hide their Jewish identity.
In their escape and in the Sudanese camps, they suffered from disease, hunger and acts of harassment, rape, and violent robberies. The families, with their elderly and younger members, walked for long periods of up to several months and were forced to wait in refugee camps in Sudan for up to two years.
Approximately 4,000 members of the community perished on the way and in the camps, in their attempt to arrive at Israel.” This quote is from the official Knesset website.
The Ethiopian Jews are a vital part of the fabric of Israel and everyone should be very thankful for them. They serve many times in the most dangerous positions in the military, they have unparalleled skills in these positions, and they add such a vibrant aspect to the Israeli culture.
Just as a side note, I was so glad to hear that during Operation Moses (1981-1984), to save these Jewish people, Alaska Airlines used some of their planes to participate in this heroic saving of these precious lives.
It is also a bit of trivia that during the follow-up airlifts, Operation Solomon in 1991, the world’s record for the most passengers on an aircraft was achieved. 1088 people were on one flight on an El Al Boeing 747 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Tel Aviv.
Let’s please remember those Ethiopian Jews who lost their lives while seeking to return to their promised homeland–Israel.