(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Ethiopian immigrants should be able to convert to Judaism in their native land and make aliya under the Law of Return, announced Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar Monday. Amar was speaking at a hearing of the Knesset's Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on the conversion process in Israel.
Amar said that former prime minister Ariel Sharon had previously called for conversions to take place in Ethiopia while the immigrants are waiting to come here, rather than spending their first two years after making aliya converting to Judaism instead of studying Hebrew. The immigrants, who are known as Falash Mura, are Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity more than a century ago. They must currently make aliya under the Law of Entry because their Judaism is still in question.
Committee chairman MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) also announced his plans to propose a bill enabling Ethiopian immigrants to enroll their children into the secular school system. Currently, all Falash Mura immigrants must send their children to religious schools, overwhelming the system and creating segregated schools in which the majority of the pupils are of Ethiopian origin.