Some of the last Jews living in Yemen were brought to Israel in a secret mission in recent days, the Jewish Agency announced.
Clandestine activity of the Jewish Agency culminated in the aliya of the 19 Jews, fourteen from the town of Raydah and a family of five from the capital Sanaa.
According to Channel 2, the US State Department was involved in the mission and helped coordinate the complex transfer of the Jews after the group faced persecution on its way to Israel.
Among the new immigrants was Rabbi Saliman Dahari who arrived with his parents and his wife and met his children upon arrival at the absorption center in Israel. The rabbi brought with him a torah scroll that is 500-600-years-old.
The father of one of the new arrivals on Monday was Aharon Zindani, who was murdered in an anti-Semitic attack in 2012. Also in 2012, a young Jewish woman was abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and forcibly wed to a Muslim man. The Jewish Agency said that as Yemen has descended into civil war and the humanitarian situation in the country has worsened, the Jewish community has found itself increasingly imperiled.
More than 51,000 Yemenite Jews have immigrated to Israel since the country’s establishment in 1948. In 1949, Israel organized their mass transfer to the newly-established state in Operation Magic Carpet.
The Jewish Agency noted that some fifty Jews remain in Yemen, including approximately forty in Sanaa, where they live in a closed compound adjacent to the US embassy and enjoy the protection of Yemeni authorities. These last Jews have chosen to remain in the country without Jewish communal or organizational infrastructure, the Jewish Agency said.
Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said hailed the mission as a "significant moment in the history of Israel and of aliya."
"From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, The Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close. This chapter in the history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry’s unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel,” Sharansky said.
(Photo: Ancient torah scroll brought from Yemen, Credit: Jewish Agency)