Ethiopian rabbi’s brother helps those left behind

Emanuel Hadane takes up cause of more than 20,000 Ethiopians of Jewish descent who are not eligible under Israeli government criteria to make aliya.

December 20, 2011 06:18
2 minute read.
Ethiopian Chief Rabbi Yosef Hadane

Ethiopian Chief Rabbi Yosef Hadane 311. (photo credit: Rosh Pina Project)


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Emanuel Hadane, the brother of Israel’s Ethiopian Chief Rabbi Yosef Hadane, has taken up the cause of more than 20,000 Ethiopians of Jewish descent who are not eligible under Israeli government criteria to make aliya.

According to Hadane, who is a trained lawyer, his brother – the rabbi – is supportive of his attempts to try and reverse the government’s position on this issue and allow immigration from Ethiopia to continue until the last of the Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago) arrive in Israel.

“I have met with these people, some are in Addis Ababa and some are in Gondar, and they are people whose ancestors were converted to Christianity, but I believe that Rabbi Hadane, [Sephardi Chief Rabbi] Rabbi Shlomo Amar and other rabbis and spiritual leaders will support continuing this aliya,” Hadane told The Jerusalem Post in an interview earlier this week.

Hadane took up this cause just two months ago after members of a community calling itself the Ethiopian Jewish Unity Association turned to him for help. He has already set up a non-profit organization called Equlenet and plans to work within the law to bring all the Falash Mura to Israel.

American-born Israeli Dov Lipman, director of Anglos for Am Shalem, a new political movement led my MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, is also closely involved in lobbying for change on this issue.

The Ethiopian Jewish Unity Association, which is based in Gondar, claims that it is part of the Jewish nation and until just over a year ago its members were fully recognized as Falash Mura.

According to the community’s appointed leader Tesfahun Adela Guadie, nearly all of the 15,000 people have close relatives in Israel and none are perturbed by the government’s decision that they are not eligible for aliya.

The Falash Mura were officially recognized in 2002 as part of the Jewish people by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and they make aliya under a special clause in the Law of Entry.

In order to be eligible for immigration, community members must be able to show a matrilineal connection to Judaism, have direct relatives already living in Israel and must appear on a 1999 survey of Ethiopian Jewry conducted by former director-general of the Interior Ministry David Efrati.

The immigrants must also undergo a conversion to Judaism upon arrival in Israel.

The people being represented by Emanuel Hadane do not appear on the Efrati list.

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