On Ethiopian Jews In Limbo


In his article, “Ethiopians, Young And Old, Sitting Here In Limbo” (Aug. 4), Rabbi Jerome Epstein alleges that there are 9,000 Ethiopians who are eligible to make aliyah under Israel’s Law of Return, but have not been permitted to do so. This is factually false.

All persons in Ethiopia eligible by Israeli law and wishing to do so have made aliyah and were absorbed in Israel years ago. However, in view of their humanitarian plight and in view of certain non-immediate family ties to Israelis, certain Ethiopian citizens will be permitted to emigrate through a special cabinet decision — even though they do not meet the criteria of eligibility for aliyah under the Law of Return.

As Rabbi Epstein notes, the immigration of the first round of 1,300 such persons has already begun. As I am sure Rabbi Epstein is aware, had it been the case that the individuals in Ethiopia were eligible for aliyah under Israeli law¸ there would be no need for a special cabinet decision to bring them to Israel. I recognize that the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ), like any 501(c)(3), must engage in fundraising efforts. I hope in future such efforts will be conducted without misleading the public.


Consulate General
of Israel in New York