Menu JTA Search

NEW YORK, June 23

(JTA) — Following is a timeline of the major developments in the exodus of

Jews from Ethiopia. 1979: The first few hundred Jews manage to leave Ethiopia and get to Israel. 1980-83: A few thousand more Ethiopian Jews come out quietly through the Sudan. 1984: Huge numbers of Ethiopian Jews go to the Sudan trying to get to Israel. Dire conditions lead to the deaths of more than 4,000 en route or in refugee camps. December 1984: Operation Moses brings 6,000 to 8,000 out of Ethiopia. But the Sudanese government brings the operation to a halt after newspapers publish stories on the secret rescue. A mop-up operation brings out fewer than another 1,000. 1985-89: Several thousand others are quietly brought out by Jewish aid groups and the Israeli government. January 1990-May 1991: The numbers of those allowed to emigrate increases to between 8,000 and 10,000 after Ethiopia agrees to allow Israel to reopen its embassy. May 1991: Israel launches Operation Solomon, a dramatic 36-hour airlift that brings an additional 14,000 to Israel, including 2,000 Falash Mura. August 1991: An Israeli ministerial commission rules that entry to Israel requires “a clear belonging of the converted person to his ethnic roots, clear desire to return to Judaism and a process of return to Judaism.” 1992: 3,500 Jews from Upper Kwara and another 3,000 to 4,000 Falash Mura go to Israel. 1993-present: About 10,000-12,000 Falash Mura leave for Israel, some 5,000- 7,000 brought through the compound in Addis Ababa and the rest from northern Ethiopia. Falash Mura all have undergone “return-to-Judaism” procedures. April 1993: An Israeli ministerial commission rules that only those eligible under the Law of Return, and some under a very narrow definition for family reunification, may come to Israel from Ethiopia. June 1997: After years of political wrangling, the Israeli government decides to allow entry, on humanitarian grounds, to those Falash Mura who have been waiting in the Addis Ababa compound, even if they cannot be admitted under conditions of the Law of Return. October 1997-June 1998: Some 4,000 remaining Falash Mura are brought to Israel from the compound in Addis Ababa, where they have been living since the early 1990s. May 1998: The government of Israel instructs Jewish aid groups to end their work in the capital. June 1998: The government of Israel announces plans to close the compound in Addis Ababa, end immigration from Ethiopia under Law of Entry and process via the Law of Return only those of recent Jewish lineage.