Beta Israel: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beta Israel
Falasha gondar injera 2006.jpg
Beta Israel making injera in Gondar, in 1996.
Total population
125,000 - 130,000
Regions with significant populations
 Israel 120,000 [1] (2008)
1.75% of the Israeli population
 Ethiopia 3,188 - 8,700 [2]
 United States of America 1,000 [3]
Historical Jewish languages
Kayla · Qwara
Liturgical languages
Predominant spoken languages
Amharic · Tigrinya · Hebrew


Related ethnic groups

African Jews, other Jewish groups
Amhara, Tigrinya, Agaw

Beta Israel (Hebrew: ביתא ישראל‎: Beta Israel, "House of Israel"; Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl) is the historical name of the Jewish community of Ethiopia, most of whom now live in Israel. They are also known as Falasha (Ge'ez for "Exiles" or "Strangers") by non-Jewish Ethiopians, but the Jews consider the term derogatory[7]. Other terms by which the community have been known include Kayla (an Agaw group and language spoken by some members) and the Hebrew Habashim, associated with the non-Jewish Habesha people.

Nearly all of the Ethiopian Beta Israel community, comprising more than 120,000 people, reside in Israel under its Law of Return, which gives Jews and those with Jewish parents or grandparents, and all of their spouses, the right to settle in Israel and obtain citizenship. The Israeli government has mounted rescue operations, most notably during Operation Moses (1984) and Operation Solomon (1991), for their migration when civil war and famine threatened populations within Ethiopia. Some immigration has continued up until the present day. Today 81,000 Ethiopian Israelis were born in Ethiopia, while 38,500 or 32% of the community are native born Israelis. [4]

The related Falasha Mura are the descendants of Beta Israel who converted to Christianity. Some are returning to the practices of Judaism, living in Falash Mura communities and observing halakha. Beta Israel spiritual leaders, including Chief Kes Raphael Hadane have argued for the acceptance of the Falasha Mura as Jews.[5] This claim has been a matter of controversy within Israeli society.[6][7][8][9]




Beta Israel beliefs

The Beta Israel village of Balankab. From H. A. Stern, Wanderings Among the Falashas in Abyssinia London, 1862; reprinted in the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain.

The Ethiopian legend described in the Kebra Negast, or "Book of the Glory of Kings," relates that Ethiopians are descendants of Israelite tribes who came to Ethiopia with Menelik I, alleged to be the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (or Makeda, in the legend) (see 1 Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9:1-12). The legend relates that Menelik, as an adult, returned to his father in Jerusalem, and then resettled in Ethiopia, and that he took with him the Ark of the Covenant.

In the Bible there is no mention that the Queen of Sheba either married or had any sexual relations with King Solomon; rather, the narrative records that she was impressed with his wealth and wisdom, and they exchanged royal gifts, and then she returned to rule her people in Kush. However, the "royal gifts" are interpreted by some as sexual contact. The loss of the Ark is also not mentioned in the Bible.

Those who accept the Kebra Negast believe that the Beta Israel are descended from a battalion of men of Judah that fled southwards down the Arabian coastal lands from Judea after the breakup of the united Kingdom of Israel into two kingdoms in the 10th century BCE (while King Rehoboam reigned over Judah).

Although the Kebra Nagast and some traditional Ethiopian histories have stated that Yodit (or "Gudit"), a tenth century usurping queen, was Jewish, it's unlikely that this was the case. It is more likely that she was a pagan southerner[10] or a usurping Christian Aksumite Queen.[11]

Most of the Beta Israel consider the Kebra Negast legend to be a fabrication. Instead they believe, based on the ninth century stories of Eldad ha-Dani (the Danite), that the tribe of Dan attempted to avoid the civil war in the Kingdom of Israel between Solomon's son Rehoboam and Jeroboam the son of Nebat, by resettling in Egypt. From there they moved southwards up the Nile into Ethiopia, and the Beta Israel are descended from these Danites.

Other sources tell of many Jews who were brought as prisoners of war from ancient Israel by Ptolemy I and also settled on the border of his kingdom with Nubia (Sudan). Another tradition handed down in the community from father to son asserts that they arrived either via the old district of Qwara in northwestern Ethiopia, or via the Atbara River, where the Nile tributaries flow into Sudan. Some accounts even specify the route taken by their forefathers on their way upstream from Egypt.[12]

Rabbinical views

Public appeal of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to save the Jews of Ethiopia, 1921, signed by Chief Rabbis Abraham Isaac Kook and Jacob Meir.

The ninth century Jewish traveler Eldad ha-Dani claimed the Beta Israel descended from the tribe of Dan, claiming Jewish kingdoms around or in East Africa existed during this time. His writings may represent the first mention of the Beta Israel, but his accuracy is uncertain; scholars point to Eldad's lack of firsthand knowledge of Ethiopia's geography and any Ethiopian language, although he claimed the area as his homeland.[13]

Rabbi Ovadiah Yare of Bertinoro wrote in letter from Jerusalem in 1488:

I myself saw two of them in Egypt. They are dark-skinned... and one could not tell whether they keep the teaching of the Karaites, or of the Rabbis, for some of their practices resemble the Karaite teaching... but in other things they appear to follow the instruction of the Rabbis; and they say they are related to the tribe of Dan.[14]

Some Jewish legal authorities have also asserted that the Beta Israel are the descendants of the tribe of Dan, one of the Ten Lost Tribes. In their view, these people established a Jewish kingdom that lasted for hundreds of years. With the rise of Christianity and later Islam, schisms arose and three kingdoms competed. Eventually, the Christian and Muslim Ethiopian kingdoms reduced the Jewish kingdom to a small impoverished section. The earliest authority to rule this way was the Radbaz (Rabbi David ben Zimra, 1479– 1573). Radbaz explains in a responsum concerning the status of a Beta Israel slave:

But those Jews who come from the land of Cush are without doubt from the tribe of Dan, and since they did not have in their midst sages who were masters of the tradition, they clung to the simple meaning of the Scriptures. If they had been taught, however, they would not be irreverent towards the words of our sages, so their status is comparable to a Jewish infant taken captive by non-Jews … And even if you say that the matter is in doubt, it is a commandment to redeem them.[15]

In 1973 Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, then the Chief Sephardic Rabbi, based on the Radbaz and other accounts, ruled that the Beta Israel were Jews and should be brought to Israel. He was later joined by a number of other authorities who made similar rulings, including the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Shlomo Goren.[16]

Other notable poskim, from non-Zionist Ashkenazi circles, placed a halakhic safek (doubt) over the Jewishness of the Beta Israel. Such dissenting voices include rabbis Elazar Shach, Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and Moshe Feinstein.[17][18] Similar doubts were raised within the same circles towards Bene Israel Jews,[19], and Russian immigrants to Israel in the 1990s.

In the 1970s and early 80s the Beta Israel were forced to undergo a modified conversion ceremony involving immersion in a ritual bath, a declaration accepting Rabbinic law, and, for men, a "symbolic recircumcision".[20] Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira later waived the "symbolic recircumcision" demand, which is only required when the halakhic doubt is significant.[21] More recently Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar has ruled that descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity are "unquestionably Jews in every respect".[22] With the consent of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Amar ruled that it is forbidden to question the Jewishness of this community, pejoratively called Falashmura.[23]

At present, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires ritual immersion prior to marriage, from Jews of Ethiopian or any other ancestry alike.[24][25]

DNA evidence

A 1999 study by Lucotte and Smets studied the DNA of 38 unrelated Beta Israel males living in Israel and 104 Ethiopians living in regions located north of Addis Ababa and concluded that "the distinctiveness of the Y-chromosome haplotype distribution of the Beta-Israel from conventional Jewish populations and their relatively greater similarity in haplotype profile to non-Jewish Ethiopians are consistent with the view that the Beta Israel people descended from ancient inhabitants of Ethiopia and not the Levant."[26][27] This study confirmed the findings of a 1991 study by Zoossmann-Disken et al..[28] A 2000 study by Hammer et al. of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes of Jewish and non-Jewish groups suggested that "paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population," with the exception of the Beta Israel, who were "affiliated more closely with non-Beta Israel (non-Falasha) Ethiopians and other East Africans."[29]

A 2001 study by the Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University found a possible genetic similarity between 11 Ethiopian Falashas and 4 Yemenite Jews who took part in the testing. The differentiation statistic and genetic distances for the 11 Ethiopian Falashas and 4 Yemenite Jews tested were quite low, among the smallest of comparisons involving either of these populations. The 4 Yemenite Jews from this study may be descendants of reverse migrants of African origin who crossed Ethiopia to Yemen. The study result suggests gene flow between Ethiopia and Yemen as a possible explanation for the closeness. The study also suggests that the gene flow between Ethiopian and Yemenite Jewish populations may not have been direct, but instead could have been between Jewish and non-Jewish populations of both regions.[30]

A 2002 study of Mitochondrial DNA (which is passed through only maternal lineage to both men and women) by Thomas et al. showed that the most common mtDNA type found among the Ethiopian Falasha sample was present only in Somalia. This further supported the view that all Ethiopian Beta-Israel(Falashas) were of local or Ethiopian origin.[31]

Scholarly view

In the past, secular scholars were divided on the origins of the Beta Israel; whether they were the descendants of an Israelite tribe, or converted by Jews living in Yemen, or by the Jewish community in southern Egypt at Elephantine.[32] In the 1930s Jones and Monro argues that the chief Semitic languages of Ethiopia may suggest an antiquity of Judaism in Ethiopia. "There still remains the curious circumstance that a number of Abyssinian words connected with religion, such as the words for Hell, idol, Easter, purification, and alms– are of Hebrew origin. These words must have been derived directly from a Jewish source, for the Abyssinian Church knows the scriptures only in a Ge'ez version made from the Septuagint."[33] Richard Pankhurst summarized the various theories offered about their origins as of 1950 that the first members of this community were

(1) converted Agaws, (2) Jewish immigrants who intermarried with Agaws, (3) immigrant Yemeni Arabs who had converted to Judaism, (4) immigrant Yemeni Jews, (5) Jews from Egypt, and (6) successive waves of Yemeni Jews. Traditional Ethiopian savants, on the one hand, have declared that 'We were Jews before we were Christians', while more recent, well-documented, Ethiopian hypotheses, notably by two Ethiopian scholars, Dr Taddesse Tamrat and Dr Getachew Haile... put much greater emphasis on the manner in which Christians over the years converted to the Falasha faith, thus showing that the Falashas were culturally an Ethiopian sect, made up of ethnic Ethiopians.[34]

According to Menachem Waldman, a major wave of immigration from the Kingdom of Judah to present-day Ethiopia dates back to the Assyrian Siege of Jerusalem, in the beginning of the 7th century BC. Rabbinic accounts of the siege assert that only about 110,000 Judeans remained in Jerusalem under King Hezekiah's command, whereas about 130,000 Judeans led by Shebna had joined Sennacherib's campaign against Tirhakah, king of Kush. Sennacherib's campaign failed and Shebna's army was lost "at the mountains of darkness", suggestively identified with Semien Mountains.[35] This account is supported by the letter of Aristeas (13), which also describes several later occasions in which Judean armies were sent against Ethiopian forces. According to Jacqueline Pirenne, numerous Sabaeans crossed over the Red Sea to Ethiopia to escape from the Assyrians, who had devastated the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE. She further states that a second major wave of Sabaeans crossed over to Ethiopia in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE to escape Nebuchadnezzar. This wave also included Jews fleeing from the Babylonian takeover of Judah.[36]

In 1987 Steven Kaplan stated:

Although we don't have a single fine ethnographic research on Beta Israel, and the recent history of this tribe has received almost no attention by researchers, every one who writes about the Jews of Ethiopia feels obliged to contribute his share to the ongoing debate about their origin. Politicians and journalists, Rabbis and political activists, not a single one of them withstood the temptation to play the role of the historian and invent a solution for this riddle.[37]

Richard Pankhurst stated in 1992 "The early origins of the Falashas are shrouded in mystery, and, for lack of documentation, will probably remain so for ever."[34]

By 1994 modern scholars of Ethiopian history and Ethiopian Jews generally supported one of two conflicting hypotheses, as outlined by Kaplan:[38]

  • An ancient Jewish origin of the Beta Israel, as well as some ancient Jewish traditions later conserved by the Ethiopian Church. Kaplan lists Simon D. Messing, David Shlush, Michael Corinaldi, Menachem Waldman, Menachem Elon and David Kessler as supporters of this hypothesis.[38]
  • A late ethnogenesis of the Beta Israel between the 14th to 16th Centuries, from a sect of Ethiopian Christians who took on Biblical practices, and came to see themselves as Jews. Steven Kaplan lists himself along with G.J. Abbink, Kay K. Shelemay, Taddesse Tamrat and James A. Quirin as supporters of this hypothesis. Quirin differs from his fellow researchers in the weight he assigns to an ancient Jewish element that the Beta Israel have conserved.[38]

Paul B. Henze supported the latter view in his 2000 work Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia:

These groups came into conflict with the military colonies and Christian missions which were the main instruments of the extension southward of the Ethiopian state. They may have been joined by dissidents or rebelling northern Christians who felt their interpretation of ritual, sacred texts and traditions of art represented a more ancient Israelite connection than Orthodox Monophysite Christianity itself. The Beta Israel can thus be understood as a manifestation of the kind of rebellious archaism that has often come to the surface in Christianity -- e.g. Russian Old Believers and German Old Lutherans. Assertion of Jewish derivation, they felt, provided them with a stronger claim to legitimacy than their Christian enemies.[39]

Middle Ages

In 1329, Emperor Amda Seyon campaigned in the northwest provinces of Semien, Wegera, Tselemt, and Tsegede, in which many had been converting to Judaism and where the Beta Israel had been gaining prominence.[40] He sent troops there to fight people "like Jews" (Ge'ez ከመ:አይሁድ kama ayhūd).[41]

For the next three centuries, these regions were frequently areas of Beta Israel rebellion against the Solomonic dynasty. Religion was less important to the Emperors than loyalty, however. Rebellious Beta Israel leaders often formed alliances with other enemies of the Emperor despite their differing faiths.[41] The late fourteenth century Christian monk Qozmos, for instance, copied the Orit (Old Testament) for the Beta Israel communities. He led them against local Christians before being defeated by Emperor Dawit I.[41] Likewise, the fifteenth century governor of Tsellemt used both Jewish and Christian troops for his revolt. The first personal campaign against rebelling Beta Israel areas did not come until the reign of Emperor Yeshaq (r.1414-29). When Yeshaq I defeated the governors of Semien and Dembiya, he began to exert religious pressure. He reduced the Jews' social status below that of Christians. [41] Yeshaq forced the Jews to convert or lose their land. It would be given away as rist, a type of land qualification that rendered it forever inheritable by the recipient and not transferrable by the Emperor. Yeshaq decreed, "He who is baptized in the Christian religion may inherit the land of his father, otherwise let him be a Falāsī." This may have been the origin for the term "Falasha" (falāšā, "wanderer," or "landless person").[41] In the 1400s, Emperor Zara Yaqob carried out some of the worst massacres, attacks and forced conversions of the Christian kingdom.[citation needed] Zara Yaqob added the title "Exterminator of the Jews" to his name.[citation needed]

Another convert was Abba Sabra (or Sabriqu) of Madra Kabd near Zeqwala in Shewa, who lived in the fifteenth century. According to Falasha tradition, in which he is a seminal figure, Abba Sabra turned to a life of penance after having committed a murder; one act of this penance was building a church in Dankaz near Gondar. Not long afterwards, he "embraced the faith of the Israelites", and converted one of Zara Yaqob's sons, Saga-Amlak, who according to some accounts also converted many other people. Abba Sabra is also remembered for his teaching of the Orit, as well as the laws of purity known in Amharic as attenhugn. He is also believed to have introduced to the Beta Israel monastic practices, which became one of its most distinctive practices as a Jewish sect. The influence of converts like Qozmos and Abba Sabra complicates the work of tracing this group's possible heritage from its earliest adherents.[42]

Beta Israel autonomy in Ethiopia ended in 1624, when Emperor Susenyos confiscated their lands, sold many people into slavery and forcibly baptized others.[43] Jewish writings and religious books were burned. The practice of any form of Jewish religion was forbidden in Ethiopia.[citation needed] As a result of this period of oppression, much traditional Jewish culture and practice was lost or changed.

Nonetheless, the Beta Israel community appears to have continued to flourish during this period. The capital of Ethiopia, Gondar, in Dembiya, was surrounded by Beta Israel lands. The Beta Israel served as craftsmen, masons, and carpenters for the Emperors from the sixteenth century onwards. Such roles had been shunned by Ethiopians as lowly and less honorable than farming.[43] According to contemporary accounts by European visitors: Portuguese merchants and diplomats, French, British and other travellers, the Beta Israel numbered about one million persons in the seventeenth century.[citation needed] These accounts also recounted that some knowledge of Hebrew persisted among the people in the seventeenth century. For example, Manoel de Almeida, a Portuguese diplomat and traveller of the day, wrote that:

The Falashas or Jews are... of [Arabic] race [and speak] Hebrew, though it is very corrupt. They have their Hebrew Bibles and sing the psalms in their synagogues.[44]

The extent of De Almeida's knowledge is not known. The Beta Israel were not predominantly of the Arabic race, for instance, but he may have meant the term loosely or meant that they also knew Arabic.

The Beta Israel lost their relative economic advantage in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, during the Zemene Mesafint, a period of recurring civil strife. Although the capital was nominally in Gondar during this time period, the decentralization of government and dominance by regional capitals resulted in a decline and exploitation of Beta Israel by local rulers. No longer was there a strong central government interested in and capable of protecting them.[43] During this period, the Jewish religion was effectively lost for some forty years, before being restored in the 1840s by Abba Widdaye, the preeminent monk of Qwara.[43]

Pre-modern and modern contacts with other Jews

The earliest surviving testimony to those hidden kingdoms comes from the ninth century. In the last decades of that century, the Jews of Kairowan in Tunisia were visited by a man called Eldad son of Mahli, the Danite. Eldad the Danite, as he is referred to in Jewish histories, said he was the lone survivor of a shipwreck. He claimed to have escaped cannibals and had other fabulous adventures before arriving in Tunisia. He was described as having dark skin and speaking only a strange sort of Hebrew and no Arabic. Eldad the Danite claimed to be a Jew of a pastoralist tribe residing in the land of Havilah beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.

He claimed the tribe was descendants of the tribe of Dan, which had emigrated from Judaea at the time of Jeroboam's accession, after the death of Solomon. He said three other tribes, Naphtali, Gad and Asher, had joined them in the time of Sennacherib. He laid waste to the northern kingdom of Israel around 722 B.C. Opposite these tribes lived the Children of Moses, Bnai Mosheh, who came from those Levites who had mutilated the fingers of their right hands rather than sing the songs of Zion by the rivers of Babylon, and chose instead to flee to the south.

Eldad the Danite said the Children of Moses lived beyond a river of grinding stones. They were impossible to visit, except on the sabbath day when the river ceased its grinding. This was a concept strikingly similar to, if not a direct borrowing from, Sambation. The tribes were pastoralists and mighty warriors. They were ruled together by a king assisted by a learned Torah judge-prophet. They did not know of the Talmud, but had their own traditions written down in Hebrew. Eldad the Danite displayed these to the rabbis of Tunisia and Egypt.

The rabbis corresponded with a Gaon of Sura (in Babylon) and concluded that Eldad the Danite was indeed a Jew. They determined that the differences of his practice from their own were legitimate forms of customary law for the Jews of Havilah. In the early modern period, the variations from Rabbinic law which he practiced and obeyed were still cited by Rabbinic authorities as precedents. The facts that he used only Hebrew in the Muslim world and carried a sacred text written in Hebrew which gave details of ritual and other practices suggested that ancient Ethiopian Jewry knew Hebrew.

In the sixteenth century, the Chief Rabbi of Egypt, Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz) proclaimed that in terms of halakha (Jewish legal code), the Ethiopian community was certainly Jewish. During the nineteenth century, the majority of European Jewish authorities openly supported this assertion.

In 1908, the chief rabbis of 45 countries made a joint statement officially declaring that Ethiopian Jews were indeed Jewish. This proclamation was chiefly due to the work of Professor Jacques Faitlovitch, who studied Amharic and Tigrinya at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris under Professor Joseph Halévy. Halévy first visited the Ethiopian Jews in 1876. Upon his return to Europe, Halévy published a "Kol Korei," a cry to the world Jewish community to save the Ethiopian Jews. He formed the organization Kol Yisroel Chaverim ("All Israel are Friends"), to act as advocates for Ethiopian Jews for years to come.

Ethiopian enclave

A child of Beta Israel.

One of the earliest dated references to the Beta Israel in Ethiopian literature is in the Glorious Victories of Amda Seyon, which mentions a revolt in the province of Begemder by "the renegades who are like Jews" in the year 1332.[45]

The isolation of the Beta Israel was reported by explorer James Bruce, who published his Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in Edinburgh in 1790. In 1860, Henry Stern, a Jewish convert to Christianity, traveled to Ethiopia to attempt to convert the Beta Israel to Christianity.

Many Ethiopian Jews whose ancestors converted to Christianity have been returning to the practice of Judaism. Such people are known as the Falash Mura. They have been admitted to Israel, although not as Jews. The Israeli government can thus set quotas on their immigration and make citizenship dependent on their conversion to Orthodox Judaism. Although no one knows precisely the population of the Falash Mura in Ethiopia, observers believe it is approximately 20,000-26,000 persons. Recently, some reporters and other travelers in remote regions of Ethiopia have noted finding entire villages where people claim they are Jewish or are Falash Mura, that is, Jews who have been practicing Christianity.

In the Achefer woreda of the Mirab Gojjam Zone, roughly 1,000-2,000 families of Beta Israel were found.[citation needed] They have not petitioned to immigrate to the Jewish state. There may be other such regions in Ethiopia with significant Jewish enclaves, which would raise the total Jewish population to more than 50,000 people.[citation needed] Israel has approved the immigration of the Falash Mura at 300 per month. The Ethiopian Jewish community and its supporters have petitioned to increase this number to 600 per month, citing the high mortality rate among Jews waiting to emigrate from Ethiopia. An economic analysis conducted for the JAI by David Brodet, former director general of the Ministry of Finance, concluded that an increased rate of immigration to Israel "is highly logical and has economical and social advantages" over the present immigration rate.‏‏[46]

Religious traditions

The holiest work is the Torah — Orit. All the holy writings, including the Torah, are handwritten on parchment pages that are assembled into a codex. The rest of the Prophets and the Hagiographa are of secondary importance. The language of their holy writings is Ge'ez.

In addition to the Rabbinical Biblical canon, the Beta Israel hold sacred the books of Enoch, Jubilees, Baruch and the books of Ezra as well. The basic wording of Beta Israel Biblical writings was passed down through ancient translations like the Septuagint[citation needed], which incorporates the Apocrypha (as called by Protestant Christians) including all the books noted by Catholics as Deuterocanon as well as other Rabbinical Jewish Apocrypha.[47]

The Beta Israel possess, but do not consider canonical, several other books, including the Arde'et, Acts of Moses, Apocalypse of Gorgorios, Meddrash Abba Elija, and biographies of the nation's forebears: Gadla Adam, Gadla Avraham, Gadla Ishak, Gadla Ya'kov, Gadla Moshe, Gadla Aaron, Nagara Musye, Mota Musye.

Ethiopian women at the Kotel in Jerusalem during Hol HaMoed (the week of) Passover.

Leaders of the community consider especially important a book about the Shabbat and its precepts, Te'ezaza Sanbat (Precepts of the Sabbath). The leaders of the Beta Israel also read liturgical works, including weekday services, Shabbat and Festival prayers, and various blessings. Sefer Cahen deals with priestly functions, while Sefer Sa'atat (Book of the Hours) applies to weekdays and Shabbat. The Beta Israel religious calendar is set according to a treatise known as the Abu Shaker, which was written around 1257 CE. It covered the computation of Jewish holidays and chronological matters. The Abu Shaker lists civil and lunar dates for Jewish feasts, including Matqe' (New Year), Soma Ayhud or Badr (Yom Kippur), Masallat (Sucot), Fesh (Passover), and Soma Dehnat (Fast of Salvation) or Soma Aster (Fast of Esther).[48]

The Beta Israel have a unique holiday, known as Sigd on the 29th of Cheshvan. Sigd or Seged is derived from the Semitic root, meaning "to bow or prostrate oneself." In the past the day was called Mehella. The acts of bowing and supplication are still known as mehella. Sigd celebrates the giving of the Torah and the return from exile in Babylonia to Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah. Beta Israel tradition holds that Sigd commemorates Ezra's proclamation against the Babylonian wives (Ezra 10:10-12). In Ethiopia, the Sigd was celebrated on hilltops outside villages. The location was called by several names, including Ya'arego Dabr (Mountain for making prayers) and in Amharic Yalamana Tarrara (Mountain of Supplication). The Kessim, or elders of the community, drew a parallel between the ritual mountain and Mount Sinai. Another source described Sigd (calling it Amata Saww) as a new-moon holiday, after which the Kessim withdrew for a period of isolation.[49]

Social contact between the Beta Israel and other Ethiopians was limited. It was not because of the laws of Kashrut, since all Ethiopians share the same food taboos. Ethiopian Jews were forbidden to eat the food of non-Jews. The Kessim were more strict about the prohibition against eating food prepared by non-Kessim. Beta Israel who broke these taboos were ostracized and had to undergo a purification process. Purification included fasting for one or more days and ritual purification before entering the village. Unlike other Ethiopians, the Beta Israel do not eat raw meat dishes like kitfo or gored gored.[50]


The Beta Israel once spoke Qwara and Kayla, closely related Cushitic languages. Now they speak Amharic and Tigrinya, both Semitic languages. Their liturgical language is Ge'ez, also Semitic. Since the 1950s, they have taught Hebrew in their schools; in addition, those Beta Israel currently residing in the State of Israel use Hebrew as a daily language.

Israeli intervention

Aliyah from Ethiopia compared to the total Aliyah to Israel[51]
Years Ethiopian-born
Total Immigration
to Israel
1948–51 10 687,624
1952–60 59 297,138
1961–71 98 427,828
1972–79 306 267,580
1980–89 16,965 153,833
1990–99 39,651 956,319
2000–04 14,859 181,505
2005 3,573 21,180
2006 3,595 19,269

The Israeli government officially accepted the Beta Israel as Jews in 1975, for the purpose of the Law of Return. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin obtained clear rulings from Chief Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that they were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. They were, however, required to undergo pro forma Jewish conversions, to remove any doubt as to their Jewish status.

Beginning in 1984, the Israeli-led Operation Moses began transporting Beta Israel to Israel. In 1985, it came to an abrupt halt, leaving many of the Beta Israel still in Ethiopia. It was not until 1990 that the governments of Israel and Ethiopia came to an agreement to allow the remaining Beta Israel a chance to emigrate to Israel. In 1991, the political and economic stability of Ethiopia deteriorated, as rebels mounted attacks against and eventually controlled the capital city of Addis Ababa. Worried about the fate of the Beta Israel during the transition period, the Israeli government along with several private groups prepared to continue covertly with the migration. After El Al obtained a special provision to fly on Shabbat (because of the danger to life), on Friday, May 24, Operation Solomon began. Over the course of the next 36 hours, a total of 34 El Al passenger planes, with their seats removed to maximize passenger capacity, flew 14,325 Beta Israel non-stop to Israel.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel today

Ethiopian Israeli soldier in Nablus, in 2006
An Ethiopian Israeli member of the Israel Border Police

Ethiopian Jews are gradually becoming part of the mainstream Israeli society in religious life, military service (with nearly all males doing national service), education, and politics. Similarly to other groups of immigrant Jews who made aliyah to Israel, the Ethiopian Jews have faced obstacles in their integration to Israeli society. The Ethiopian Jewish community's internal challenges have been complicated by limited but real racist attitudes on the part of some elements of Israeli society and the official establishment.[52]

One study found that some of the problems with the absorption of the Beta Israel was due to the model of absorption chosen.

Planning for the absorption of Jewish immigrants to Israel has been dominated by a procedural approach, which has generally been insensitive to the particular circumstances and needs of minority ethnic groups. This approach has emphasised the ‘national interest’ as defined by the dominant group, namely Ashkenazi Jews who originated in Central Europe. The social and cultural traditions of other groups have been treated as ‘problems’ that need to be overcome, and minimal attention has been given to the processes of adaptation such groups undergo.[53]

Most of the 100,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel are immigrants and descendants of two main waves, the first in 1981-1984 and the second in 1991-1998. These airlifts were known as Operation Moses and Operation Solomon, respectively. Civil war and famine in Ethiopia prompted the Israeli government to mount these dramatic rescue operations. The rescues were within the context of Israel's national mission to gather Diaspora Jews and bring them to the Jewish homeland.

Individual Ethiopian Jews had lived in Eretz Yisrael prior to the establishment of the state. A youth group arrived in Israel in the 1950s to undergo training in Hebrew education and returned to Ethiopia to educate young Jews there. Also, Ethiopian Jews had been trickling into Israel prior to the 1970s. The numbers of such Ethiopian immigrants grew after the Israeli government officially recognized them in 1973 as Jews entitled to Israeli citizenship.[54]

To prepare for the absorption of tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, the State of Israel prepared two `Master Plans’ (Ministry of Absorption, 1985, 1991). The first was prepared in 1985, a year after the arrival of the first wave of immigrants. The second updated the first in response to the second wave of immigration in 1991 from Ethiopia. The first Master Plan contained an elaborate and detailed program. It covered issues of housing, education, employment and practical organization, together with policy guidelines regarding specific groups, including women, youths, and single -parent families. Like earlier absorption policies, it adopted a procedural approach which assumed that the immigrants were broadly similar to the existing majority population of Israel. The Plans were, no doubt, created with good intentions and a firm belief in assimilation. As noted in this section, results have been disappointing and suggest that much greater attention needs to be paid to issues of ethnicity. [8]

According to a November 17, 1999 BBC article, a report commissioned by Israel's Ministry of Immigrant Absorption stated that 75% of the 70,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel in 1999 could not read or write Hebrew. More than half the population could not hold a simple conversation in the Hebrew language. Unlike Russian immigrants, many of whom arrive with job skills, Ethiopians came from a subsistence economy and were ill-prepared to work in an industrialized society. Since then much progress has been made. Through military service most Ethiopian Jews have been able to increase their chances for better opportunities. [9]. Today most Ethiopian Jews have been for the most part integrated into Israeli society, however a high drop out rate is a problem, although a higher number are now edging towards the higher areas of society.

In September, 2006, the Israeli government's proposed 2007 budget included reducing Ethiopian immigration from 600 persons per month to 150. On the eve of the Knesset vote, the Prime Minister's office announced that the plan had been dropped. Advocates for the Falash Mura noted that although the quota was set at 600 per month in March, 2005, actual immigration has remained at 300 per month.[55]

On 9 November 2009, the Kiryat Ono Academy released a report that showed that 53% of Israeli employers would prefer to not employ Ethiopians.[56]

Notable Ethiopian Jewish immigrants

  • Qes Adana Takuyo was born in Seqelt and studied with the Qessim as a child. During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, he had moved to Ambober where he worked as a farmer. He studied Hebrew briefly in 1955 when an Israeli rabbi taught in Asmara. In 1985 Qes Adana immigrated to Israel along with his wife and eleven children. His oldest son Rabbi Josef Adana, who had immigrated earlier, had become the first Ethiopian Rabbi.[57]
  • In the 1920s, Yona Bogale was sponsored by Jacques Faitlovitch to study abroad. He spent two years in British Mandate Palestine, four in Germany, one in Switzerland, and one in France. After returning to Addis Ababa around 1930, he taught in the Faitlovitch school there. During the Italian occupation, he went into hiding and worked as a farmer in Wolleka. After the war Yona Bogale worked for the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for twelve years and then for the Jewish Agency. Yona Bogale was fluent in Hebrew, English, and German, as well as Amharic. He was author of an early Hebrew-Amharic dictionary. He left Ethiopia in late 1979 and immigrated to Israel. Yona was an early proponent of Ethiopian Jews' praying in Hebrew instead of Ge'ez. He believed the latter language was no longer appropriate for those seeking to be part of the modern Jewish world. He felt that Ethiopian Jews should set Hebrew prayers to the traditional Jewish melodies.[58]
  • Rabbi Sharon Shalom is a lecturer in Jewish ritual and tradition at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He is a counselor for the Ethiopian-Israeli community in the town of Kiryat Gat.[59]
  • Rabbi Yefet Alemu was born in 1961 in a small village in Ethiopia. In 1980, he left his village to go to Israel. He was arrested in Addis Ababa and escaped from prison. He arrived in the Gondar region and then set out walking to Sudan. There he met a Jewish Red Cross director who arranged for him to fly on one of the Israeli-organized secret flights to Israel. In Israel he studied and became a nurse. While continuing to be a believing Jew, Yefet became disillusioned with organized Judaism and the Israeli religious establishment’s insistence on a conversion ceremony for all Ethiopian Jews. Yefet helped organize an Ethiopian protest vigil opposite the Chief Rabbinate building in Jerusalem. At the vigil, he met students from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies who were studying to be Conservative rabbis. He was confused and surprised to see that they were without beards and without long black coats. The students replied that there was more than one type of rabbi, more than one way of being Jewish. Yefet excitedly embraced this pluralistic approach to Judaism. He was accepted by the Schechter Institute and after 6 years of hard work, he received a BA, MA, and his rabbinical ordination.[60]
  • Mazor Bahaina, rabbi of an Ethiopian community of 10,000 in Beersheba, studied at Yeshivat Porat Yosef, one of the most prestigious Sephardi yeshivot in Israel. Bayana, did not win a seat in the Knesset, yet entered when a colleague resigned.
  • Esti Mamo is an Ethiopian Jewish model. She is one of the first Ethiopian-Israelis to make it into the entertainment industry and is a budding actress. The first Ethiopian-Israeli model was Mazal Pikado in 1990.
  • Avraham Negussie is one of Israel's most prominent Ethiopian Activists and a member of the South Wing to Zion. His struggle, with the support of many other Ethiopian-Israelis has resulted in the Israeli government continuing to bring the last 23,000 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia; though the Israeli government has set a quota of 300 Jews per month, half of what they agreed to under pressure from Negussie, NACOEJ and the United Jewish Communities.
  • Meskie Shibru-Sivan is a female Ethiopian-Israeli actress and vocalist, well known in Israel and beyond for acting on theater stages, in television programs, movies as well as being an accomplished singer.
  • Moses Michael Leviy (born Jamal Barrow), better known as Shyne, a multi-platinum Belizean born rapper,whose grandmother is an Ethiopian Jew, has long been a practicing jew during his sentence from 1999 to 2009 ."He attended a Jewish service by a rabbi employed by the New York [State] Department of Corrections who would not let him attend the service because he said he didn't know if he was a real Jew," Michelen said. "That offended him, and he made the decision to change his name so there won't be any misunderstanding about his religion." .[61]
  • Baruch Tegegne, a prodigy of Bogale, was a leader in protests on behalf of Ethiopian Jewry in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • In 2009, Tzion Shenkor, the highest ranking Ethiopian-Israeli officer in the Israel Defence Forces with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel, became the first battalion commander of Ethiopian descent.[62][63]

Ethiopian-Israelis have been participating more in Israeli political life. The Atid Ekhad party sees itself as the political representative of the community, though other parties include Ethiopian members. In 2006, Shas, a party representing Haredi Jews of Sephardic and Middle Eastern background, included an Ethiopian rabbi from Beersheba, in its list for the Knesset in a conscious attempt to represent diverse geographic and ethnic groups.

Shas was not the only party attempting to appeal to the Ethiopian vote. Herut and Kadima both had Ethiopians on their lists. Shlomo Mula, head of the Jewish Agency's Ethiopian absorption department, was ranked 33 on Kadima's list and Avraham was number three on Herut's list.

Shas's spiritual mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, enthusiastically embraced Ethiopians when they first began immigrating to Israel four decades ago. Despite Rabbi Ovadia's halachic ruling, some refuse to marry Ethiopians without a conversion in accordance with official Chief Rabbinate policy. Only in cities and towns with rabbis that accept Ovadia's ruling or the ruling of Rabbi Shlomo Goren are Ethiopians married without immersion in a ritual bath (mikva) or, for men, hatafat dam, הטפת דם, see brit milah), the symbolic cut to produce a drop of blood instead of circumcision.[64]

Ethiopian Heritage Museum

A museum highlighting the culture and heritage of the Ethiopian Jewish community is to be built in Rehovot. The museum, planned as a research, interpretive and spiritual center, is the brainchild of Tomer. This is an association of veteran Ethiopian immigrants and former Mossad agents who participated in the first operations to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

The Jews of Ethiopia have a rich cultural heritage, and are the only Jews who strictly kept their Judaism although they were entirely cut off from the Jewish people," said Tomer chairman Moshe Bar-Yuda. "The museum will present Ethiopian Jewish culture to Israelis who are not familiar enough with it, and also to young Ethiopians who fall between the cracks — on one hand they are not connected to their parents' culture, and on the other, they sometimes find it hard to become part of the dynamic of life in Israel. When they see the ancient culture of their forbears, they will be filled with pride, and it will be easier for them to become part of veteran Israeli society."

Plans for the museum, expected to cost some $4.5 million, include a model Ethiopian village, an herb garden, an artificial stream, an amphitheater, classrooms, and a memorial to both Ethiopian Jews who died in Sudan on their way to Israel, and Ethiopian Zionist activists. "We view the conservation of the past as very important and believe the museum will attract young people and adults alike," Rehovot Mayor Shuki Forer says.

Numerous Ethiopian Jews live in Rehovot and surrounding towns, which is why it was chosen as the site of the museum. The city has set aside 6 dunams (6,000 m²), of land for the museum complex.

All 21 members of the Rehovot City Council, both coalition and opposition, voted for the establishment of the center," says Abai Zaudeh, a council member and a member of Tomer's board of directors. "It's the first time they all agree and leave politics behind to focus on the reality that the establishment of the museum will assist the absorption of the Ethiopian community a great deal.

One of the museum's founders was Baruch Tegegne, who pioneered escape routes from Ethiopia via Sudan and fought for the right of Jews to emigrate to Israel. Other founders include veteran Ethiopian rights activist Babu Yaakov, a former member of the Ramle City Council, and Shetu Barehon, who worked in the transit camps in Sudan to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. A number of Ethiopian Jewish spiritual leaders and rabbis are also working to increase support for the project in the community and the Diaspora.

Bar-Yuda's long association with the Ethiopian Jewish community began in 1958. The Jewish Agency asked him to go to Ethiopia to look for Jews and to reach remote villages. His report, together with a 16th Century ruling by Rabbi David B. Zimra, known as the Radbaz, was the basis for chief Sephardic rabbi Ovadia Yosef's determination in 1973 that the Jews of Ethiopia were to be considered Jews according to halakha (Jewish religious law).[65]


Beta Israel protest in Israel

Some non-Jewish Ethiopians expressed bitterness towards the Jewish emigration out of Ethiopia.[66] Others hope that the growing Ethiopian population in Israel will create stronger social and political connection between Ethiopia and Israel.[citation needed] Some Ethiopian Jews currently participate in Israeli politics.

The Ethiopian government is also an important ally of Israel in the international stage. Israel often sends expertise assistance for development projects in Ethiopia. Strategically, Israel "has always aspired to protect itself by means of a non-Arab belt that has included at various times Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia."[67]

In fiction

Operation Moses was the subject of an Israeli-French film titled Va, Vis et Deviens (Go, Live, and Become), directed by Romanian-born Radu Mihăileanu. The film tells the story of an Ethiopian Christian child whose mother has him pass as Jewish so he can emigrate to Israel and escape the famine looming in Ethiopia. The film was awarded the 2005 Best Film Award at the Copenhagen International Film Festival.

See also


  1. ^ Israel Central Bureau of Statistics: The Ethiopian Population In Israel
  2. ^ State Comptroller of Israel: Efrati Census
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1] Ha'aretz.
  5. ^ Shas to help speed up Ethiopian Jewry immigration to Israel Israel Insider
  6. ^ Israel is losing its sovereignty Ha'aretz.
  7. ^ Israel "can't bring all Ethiopian Jews at once" - foreign minister. Asia Africa Intelligence Wire (From BBC Monitoring International Reports).
  8. ^ Israel orchestrates mass exodus of Ethiopians. Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.
  9. ^ Families Across Frontiers, p. 391, ISBN 9041102396
  10. ^ Taddesse Tamrat, Church and State in Ethiopia: 1270-1527 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), pp.38-9
  11. ^ Knud Tage Andersen, "The Queen of Habasha in Ethiopian History, Tradition and Chronology," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 63, No. 1 (2000), p. 20.
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Steven Kaplan, "Eldad Ha-Dani", in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: D-Ha (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005), p.252.
  14. ^ Avraham Ya'ari, Igrot Eretz Yisrael, Ramat Gan 1971.
  15. ^ Responsum of the Radbaz on the Falasha Slave, Part 7. No. 5, cited in Corinaldi, 1998: 196.
  16. ^ [3]
  17. ^ Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, Tzitz Eliezer, Volume 17, subject 48, page 105.
  18. ^ Michael Ashkenazi, Alex Weingrod. Ethiopian Jews and Israel, Transaction Publishers, 1987, p. 30, footnote 4.
  19. ^ Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, ibid., page 104
  20. ^ Ruth Karola Westheimer, Steven Kaplan. Surviving Salvation: The Ethiopian Jewish Family in Transition, NYU Press, 1992, pp. 38-39.
  21. ^ איינאו פרדה סנבטו, Operation Moshe, מוסף Haaretz 11.3.2006
  22. ^ ‏Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, דו"ח מעקב - סוגיית זכאותם לעלייה של בני הפלשמורה, 21 January 2008, page 9‏
  23. ^ Netta Sela, הרב עמאר:הלוואי ויעלו מיליוני אתיופים לארץ, ynet, 16 January 2008‏
  24. ^ Emanuela Trevisan Semi, Tudor Parfitt. Jews of Ethiopia: The Birth of an Elite, Routledge, 2005, p. 139.
  25. ^ The Israeli Ministry of Religious Services, פתיחת תיק נישואין אצל רשמי הנישואין של בתי הדין.
  26. ^ Lucotte G, Smets P (December 1999). "Origins of Falasha Jews studied by haplotypes of the Y chromosome". Human Biology 71 (6): 989–93. PMID 10592688. 
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ Zoossmann-Diskin A, Ticher A, Hakim I, Goldwitch Z, Rubinstein A, Bonne-Tamir B (May 1991). "Genetic affinities of Ethiopian Jews". Israel Journal of Medical Sciences 27 (5): 245–51. PMID 2050504. 
  29. ^ Hammer M. F., Redd A. J., Wood E. T., Bonner M. R., Jarjanazi H., Karafet T., Santachiara-Benerecetti S., Oppenheim A., Jobling M. A., Jenkins T., Ostrer H., Bonné-Tamir B. "Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 6, 2000 vol. 97 no. 12 6769-6774.
  30. ^ Rosenberg NA, Woolf E, Pritchard JK, et al. (January 2001). "Distinctive genetic signatures in the Libyan Jews". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98 (3): 858–63. doi:10.1073/pnas.98.3.858. PMID 11158561. 
  31. ^ Thomas MG, Weale ME, Jones AL, et al. (June 2002). "Founding mothers of Jewish communities: geographically separated Jewish groups were independently founded by very few female ancestors". American Journal of Human Genetics 70 (6): 1411–20. doi:10.1086/340609. PMID 11992249. 
  32. ^ For a discussion of this theory, see Edward Ullendorff, Ethiopia and the Bible (Oxford: University Press for the British Academy, 1968), pp. 16f, 117. According to Ullendorff, individuals who believed in this origin included President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi of Israel.
  33. ^ A.H.M. Jones and Elizabeth Monroe, A History of Ethiopia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935), p. 40.
  34. ^ a b Richard Pankhurst, "The Falashas, or Judaic Ethiopians, in Their Christian Ethiopian Setting", African Affairs, Vol. 91 (October 1992), pp. 567-582 at p. 567
  35. ^ Menachem Waldman, גולים ויורדים מארץ יהודה אל פתרוס וכוש – לאור המקרא ומדרשי חז'ל, Megadim E, pages 39-44'
  36. ^ Compare Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum: An African Civilization of Late Antiquity (Edinburgh: University Press, 1991), p. 65
  37. ^ Steven Kaplan, The Origins of the Beta Israel: Five Methodological Cautions, Pe'amim 33 (1987), pages 33-49. (Hebrew)
  38. ^ a b c Steven Kaplan, On the Changes in the Research of Ethiopian Jewry, Pe'amim 58 (1994), pages 137-150. (Hebrew)
  39. ^ Paul B. Henze. Layers of Time. Palgrave, 2000. p. 55.
  40. ^ Pankhurst, Borderlands, pp. 79.
  41. ^ a b c d e Steven Kaplan, "Betä Əsraʾel", in Siegbert von Uhlig, ed., Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: A–C (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003), p. 553.
  42. ^ Pankhurst, "The Falasha", p. 569.
  43. ^ a b c d Kaplan,"Betä Əsraʾel",Aethiopica p. 554.
  44. ^ History of High Ethiopia or Abassia, trans. and ed. C.F. Beckingham and G.W.B. Huntingford, London: Hakluyt Society, 1954, pp. 54–5
  45. ^ Glorious Victories of Amda Seyon I, trans. G.W.B. Huntingford [Oxford: Clarendon Press], p. 61
  46. ^ ‏David Brodet, ‏העלאת בני הפלשמורה לישראל - משמעויות כלכליות לשינוי קצב העלייה, January 2005 (Hebrew)
  47. ^ The Book of Ben Sira(Sirach), Judith, Baruch, and the Books of Ezra are considered "deuterocanonical"(although not all- as Enoch or Jubilees) by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions and "Apocrypha" by Protestants and Rabbinical Judaism [5]. Generally these works are merged into the text of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles, printed between the testaments in Anglican Bibles, and omitted entirely from Protestant and most Jewish Bibles.
  48. ^ Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Music, Ritual, and Falasha History, Michigan State University Press, 1989, page 45-53
  49. ^ Shelemay, Music, page 48.
  50. ^ Shelemay, Music, page 42
  51. ^ Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Immigrants, by Period of Immigration, Country of Birth and Last Country of Residence from the Statistical Abstract of Israel 2007-No.58
  52. ^ Onolemhemhen Durrenda Nash, The Black Jews of Ethiopia, Scarecrow Press; Reprint edition 2002, page 40
  53. ^ Tovi Fenter, "Ethnicity, Citizenship, Planning and Gender: the case of Ethiopian immigrant women in Israel," Gender, Place and Culture, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 179, 1998
  54. ^ Fenter, "Ethnicity,", page 181.
  55. ^ Heilman, Urile (2006-11-17). "Falash Mura supporters hail vote to keep monthly immigration steady". Connecticut Jewish Ledger. pp. 22, 26. Retrieved 2006-11-17. 
  56. ^ Study: Israeli employers prefer not to hire Arabs
  57. ^ Shelemay, Music, p. 347.
  58. ^ Shelemay, Music, pp. 351–2.
  59. ^ Batsheva Pomerantz, "Ethiopian Israeli rabbi a beacon for his people, Boy’s long, lonely journey leads to fulfillment of dreams," The Jewish News Weekly of California, Friday May 25, 2007.
  60. ^ Ira Kerem, "DC Community Brings Pesach Seder to 900 Ethiopian Residents of Beit Shemesh," The Jewish Agency for Israel, June 2002
  61. ^
  62. ^ Spira, Yechiel (2009-03-27) (in English). Ethipian Review. Israel's first Ethiopian battalion commander. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  63. ^ Fendel, Hillel (2009-04-05). "IDF Promotes its First Ethiopian Regiment Commander" (in English). Israel National News. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  64. ^ [6]
  65. ^ Ayanawu Farada Sanbetu, "Museum on history of Ethiopian Jewry to be built in Rehovot," 19:26 18/07/2005,
  66. ^ Ethiopian Jews and Israel
  67. ^ Zvi Bar'el, Why we need Turkey, Ha'aretz, 22 February 2009

Further reading


  • Steven Kaplan & Shoshana Ben-Dor (1988). Ethiopian Jewry - An Annotated Bibliography. Ben-Zvi Institute.
  • Carl Rathjens (1921). Die Juden in Abessinien. W. Gente.
  • Johann Martin Flad (1869). The Falashas (Jews) of Abyssinia.
  • James Bruce (1790). Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile.
  • Henry Aaron Stern (1862).Wanderings among the Falashas in Abyssinia.


  • Robert L. Hess (1969). "Toward a History of the Falasha". Eastern African history. Praeger.
  • Ephraim Isaac (1974), The Falasha: Black Jews of Ethiopia. Dillard University Scholar Statesman Lecture Series.
  • Louis Rapoport (1980). The Lost Jews: Last of the Ethiopian Falashas. Stein and Day. ISBN 0812827201
  • Simon D. Messing (1982). The Story of the Falashas "Black Jews of Ethiopia". Brooklyn. ISBN 0961594691
  • David Kessler (1985). The Falashas: the Forgotten Jews of Ethiopia. Schocken Books. ISBN 0805207910
  • Yossi Avner (1986). The Jews of Ethiopia: A People in Transition. Beth Hatefutsoth. ISBN 0873340396
  • Mark Shapiro (1987). "The Falasha of Ethiopia". The World and I. Washington Times Corp.
  • James A. Quirin (1992). The Evolution of the Ethiopian Jews: a History of the Beta Israel (Falasha) to 1920. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0812231163
  • Steven Kaplan (1995). The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century. New York University Press. ISBN 0814746640
  • David Kessler (1996). The Falashas: a short history of the Ethiopian Jews. Frank Cass. ISBN 0714646466


  • Kay Kaufman Shelemay (1989). Music, Ritual, and Falasha History . Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0870132741
  • Michael Corinaldi (1988). Jewish Identity - The Case of Ethiopian Jewry. The Magnes Press. ISBN 9652239933
  • Menahem Valdman (1985). The Jews of Ethiopia: the Beta Israel community. Ami-Shav.
  • Wolf Leslau (1951). Falasha Anthology. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300039271
  • Edward Ullendorff (1968). Ethiopia and the Bible. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0197260764
  • Menachem Elon (1987). The Ethiopian Jews : a case study in the functioning of the Jewish legal system. New York University
  • Steven Kaplan (1988). "Falasha religion: ancient Judaism or evolving Ethiopian tradition?". Jewish Quarterly Review LXXXIX. Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania.


  • Tudor Parfitt (1986). Operation Moses: the untold story of the secret exodus of the Falasha Jews from Ethiopia. Stein and Day. ISBN 0812830598
  • Claire Safran (1987). Secret exodus: the story of Operation Moses. Reader's Digest.
  • Stephen Spector (2005). Operation Solomon: The Daring Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0195177827
  • Shmuel Yilma (1996). From Falasha to Freedom: An Ethiopian Jew's Journey to Jerusalem. Gefen Publishing. House. ISBN 9652291692
  • Alisa Poskanzer (2000). Ethiopian exodus: a practice journal. Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 9652292176
  • Baruch Meiri (2001). The Dream Behind Bars: the Story of the Prisoners of Zion from Ethiopia. Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 9652292214
  • Asher Naim (2003). Saving the lost tribe: the rescue and redemption of the Ethiopian Jews. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345450817
  • Micha Odenheimer‏& Ricki Rosen (2006). Transformations: From Ethiopia to Israel.Reality Check Productions . ISBN 9652293776
  • Gad Shimron (2007). Mossad Exodus: The Daring Undercover Rescue of the Lost Jewish Tribe . Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 9652294039
  • Gadi Ben-Ezer (2002). The Ethiopian Jewish exodus: narratives of the migration journey to Israel, 1977-1985. Routledge. ISBN 0415273633


  • Hagar Salamon (1999). The Hyena People: Ethiopian Jews in Christian Ethiopia. University of California Press. ISBN 0520219015
  • Kay Kaufman Shelemay & Steven Kaplan (2010). "Creating the Ethiopian Diaspora". Special issue of Diaspora - A Journal of Transnational Studies.
  • Daniel Summerfield (2003). From Falashas to Ethiopian Jews: the external influences for change c.1860-1960. Routledge. ISBN 0700712186
  • Esther Hertzog (1999). Immigrants and bureaucrats: Ethiopians in an Israeli absorption center. Berghahn Books. ISBN 157181941X
  • Ruth Karola Westheimer & Steven Kaplan (1992). Surviving salvation: the Ethiopian Jewish family in transition. NYU Press. ISBN 0814792537
  • Tanya Schwarz (2001). Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel: the homeland postponed. Routledge. ISBN 0700712380
  • Girma Berhanu (2001). Learning In Context: An Ethnographic Investigation of Meditated Learning Experiences Among Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Goteborg University Press. ISBN 91-7346-411-2
  • Teshome G. Wagaw (1993). For our soul: Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814324584
  • Michael Ashkenazi & Alex Weingrod (1987). Ethiopian Jews and Israel. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 0887381332
  • Tudor Parfitt & Emanuela Trevisan Semi (1999). The Beta Israel in Ethiopia and Israel: studies on Ethiopian Jews. Routledge. ISBN 0700710922
  • Tudor Parfitt & Emanuela Trevisan Semi (2005). Jews of Ethiopia: the birth of an elite. Routledge. ISBN 0415318386

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address