The Jewish Agency is to bring the last of Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel on Wednesday afternoon with a flight of 400 Falash Mura, bringing an end to a saga that has spanned decades and seen tens of thousands of men, women and children coming to the Jewish state.
Ethiopian-Israelis are planning a protest outside of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office at the same time that a plane representing the official end of Ethiopian aliya is scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport.
At the protest, which is being organized by activist Avraham Neguise as well as through Facebook, members of the Ethiopian community will hold aloft images of their loved ones who will remain in Gondar following the closure of the Jewish Agency’s facilities there.
In preparation for the final flight, scheduled for August 28, the agency handed over the keys of the Jewish school in Gondar, a transit point run by the agency, to the city’s mayor. The school and all its facilities, which the agency says provided education for 2,500 Jewish students in preparation for life in Israel, were given to the municipality “free of charge.”
“Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years. However, their longing to return home never weakened,” agency chairman Natan Sharansky said at a ceremony marking the turnover.
“Today we bring to an end a journey that spans thousands of years – the conclusion of Operation Wings of a Dove.”
Wings of a Dove was launched three years ago to bring to Israel the remaining Falash Mura, Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity.
“To this day, the Jewish Agency has brought some 7,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, the vast majority Falash Mura,” it said in a statement.
“The Jewish Agency’s community center in Gondar – with the assistance of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Jewish Federations of North America – operated educational activities and provided welfare services to eligible immigrants.
Upon their arrival in Israel, these new immigrants were housed in 17 absorption centers around the country, run by Israel’s Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency.”