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Israeli official remembered for helping Ethiopians

JERUSALEM, July 31 (JTA) — A former Jewish Agency for Israel official is being remembered for his leadership in absorbing thousands of Ethiopian Jews into Israel.

Uri Gordon, who headed the agency’s department of immigration, died Sunday at the age of 65.

During Operation Solomon in the early 1990s, he supervised the settlement of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews who immigrated to Israel. In more recent years, he helped absorb Jews from the former Soviet Union.

Born in Tel Aviv, Gordon lived on Kibbutz Mishmar David for 11 years.

Youth and continuity were themes throughout Gordon’s career. He founded the Labor Party’s Young Guard and was an organizer of the youth division of the nation’s Histadrut labor movement.

During the 1960s, he spearheaded a campaign to pass a resolution that every Zionist leader in the Diaspora make a personal commitment to move to Israel.

In the early 1970s, Gordon was involved in setting up youth clubs in Israeli development towns.

Also during the 1970s, he was sent as an emissary to the United States, where he founded Telem: the Movement for Zionist Fulfillment, which focused on Zionist education and immigration to Israel.

In the 1980s, as head of Jewish Agency’s Youth Aliyah Department, he was responsible for the absorption of young Ethiopians who arrived in Operation Moses.

His proteges include Jewish Agency Treasurer Chaim Chesler, who said that with Gordon’s death, “the Zionist movement has lost one of its finest leaders.”

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