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Black Jews from U.S. Settled in Dimona by Jewish Agency

January 6, 1970
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A group of 39 black Jews from Chicago who migrated to Israel unexpectedly three weeks ago are apparently getting along very well in their new environment. The Jewish Agency has settled them temporarily at Dimona, a new industrial town in the Negev desert between Beersheba and the Dead Sea. But their eventual status as immigrants remains undecided.

Within three days of their arrival at Dimona all families found work at the nearby textile plants and in local shops and factories, according to the Jewish Agency. Their children are already attending school. All of them have Hebrew names and have some knowledge of the Hebrew language.

The group arrived penniless at Lydda Airport from Liberia. They told Israeli officials they had tried to set up a Jewish communal settlement in the West African country but were made to feel “unwanted” and decided to go to Israel “where we belong.”

The Government issued them visitors visas, good for three months, and they are expected to receive permanent residents permits. Their status as immigrants and the privileges that go with it depends upon whether they are recognized as Jews by Israel’s chief rabbinate. A number of rabbis have taken an interest in the case and are trying to settle the problem the Jewish Agency said.

The newcomers will probably have to undergo conversion rites. They seem to have no complaints. They say “This is our home and we are going to work and stay here,” the Jewish Agency reported.

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