JERUSALEM (JTA) — Seventy-one Ethiopians arrived in Israel accompanied by lay leaders from the Jewish Federations of North America.
After landing Thursday at Ben Gurion Airport, the new immigrants and the delegation of leaders were taken to an absorption center in Kiryat Gat.
The mission traveled to Ethiopia to meet the remaining members of the community and visit the Jewish Community Center and school in Gondar before escorting the olim to Israel. In Israel, the delegation will discuss the future of Ethiopian immigrants with Jewish Agency and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee representatives.
The UJA-Federation gives more than $3 million annually to Ethiopian aliyah and absorption in Israel, as well as medical and educational services for those still in Ethiopia. More than 6,000 Ethiopian Jews, called Falash Mura, are in Ethiopia seeking to make aliyah.
“Seeing firsthand the hardships that the Jews of Ethiopia face, and joining them as they come home to Israel, truly illustrates why making the dream of aliyah a reality is such an important part of our work,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York. “But our obligations go much deeper than simply bringing them to Israel. We believe it is our responsibility to give the Jews of Ethiopia the tools to succeed once they arrive."