PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 15)
Premier Menachem Begin of Israel has pledged his government’s cooperation with the newly formed Committee on Ethiopian Jews of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC) in a cable to its annual assembly here today.
Begin’s message, to Daniel Shapiro, chairman of the committee, stated: “Please accept my warmest wishes for success in your deliberations on our Falasha brothers. We have done our utmost to save and bring the Jews of Ethiopia to our historic homeland, Eretz Israel. Every person of good will should support this campaign for this basic human right. We are happy with the formation of the American committee to act on this great humanitarian issue with which our inter-departmental committee will cooperate.”
Shapiro, who is active with the New York Jewish Community Relations Council and the United Jewish Appeal Federation Joint Campaign, said that his committee’s “priority task” would be to bring the plight of Falasha Jews to the attention of the American people and to facilitate their exodus to Israel.
Rachamim Elazar, a Falasha now studying at Tel Aviv University, spoke at a plenary session of the assembly and described the current situation of Falasha Jews. He said their numbers have been reduced from 100,000 50 years ago to fewer than 28,000 today. Elazar told of walking 30 miles when he was nine years old “to see and touch someone who had come from Jerusalem, a thought that kept and keeps us alive as Jews.”
Albert Chernin, executive vice chairman of NJCRAC, announced that the new committee would be staffed by Abraham Bayer, director of NJCRAC programs dealing with Jews abroad.