Action Needed On Ethiopians


The editorial, “Ethiopian Jews, Once Hailed, Now Cast Aside” (Aug. 2), addressed the attitudes of the North American Jewish community towards Ethiopian Jewry, contrasting its once glorified involvement with its current inactivity, in particular with regard to the remainder of Ethiopia Jewry still awaiting aliyah.

I grew up attending a well-known Jewish day school and high school in New Jersey, and regularly attended synagogue with my parents. In each case we were taught the essential Jewish value that “kol yisrael areivim zeh l’zeh” — we are all responsible for one another.

It is therefore disgraceful that the North American Jewish community that educated me to reach out my hand to support vulnerable populations, and especially our Jewish brothers and sisters, has turned a deaf ear on the approximately 7,500 remaining Jews of Ethiopia who are living in squalid conditions of hunger and sickness, as they await aliyah and to be reunited with their families who have already immigrated to Israel.

A privately funded 2017 study commissioned to determine the medical and nutritional situation of the Jewish community in Gondar, Ethiopia found that supplemental nutritional assistance is urgently needed for children up to age five who are chronically malnourished, in higher percentages than children in the general Gondar community.

The only Jewish organization providing ongoing support to the remaining Jewish community in Ethiopia is Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry (SSEJ), a small volunteer-run organization that has minimal funding.

It is time for the leaders of the great Jewish institutions in North America that historically were at the forefront of the rescue and support of Ethiopian Jews to act before it is too late. It would be a great tragedy should we look back years from now and lament on what we could have done but did not do to reach out our hands to our brothers and sisters.