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Ethiopian Jews Mark First Rabbinic Ordinations in Israel

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The first group of Ethiopian Jews to be ordained as rabbis in Israel were officially appointed to their new status at a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue this week.

The group of twelve had undergone seven years of training in Israel. All had come to Israel on Operation Moses, the first mass airlift to Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish state in 1984-1985. The new rabbis will be assigned to communities with large Ethiopian populations.

Both of Israel’s chief rabbis attended Wednesday’s ordination ceremony.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau later said he hoped their ordination would help advance the Ethiopian community’s integration into Israeli society.

Religious Affairs Minister Shimon Shetreet, who also attended the ceremony, called it a historic event that marked the closing of a circle from the days the Ethiopian community was “not even recognized as Jews, to the day they are appointed rabbis.”

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