waiting is the hardest part
in 1984, across the united states, synagogue members were invited to an emergency meetings. i recall being at one. we were told of a unique opportunity to get the beta israel jews out of ethiopia and take them to israel. thus, donations were solicited and contributed to what was called “operation moses.” the operation brought rescued approximately 8,000 individuals. israeled.org
over time, instrumental figures in relocating beta israel to israel, such as prime minister menachem begin and rabbi ovadia yoshef, have passed. new leaders have emerged. now, minister pnina tameno shete, of ethiopian descent, who is in charge of the ministry of aliyah and integration, has taken the role of completing the task. perhaps, minister tameno shete still channels the epic words of prime minister begin when he commanded “bring me the jews of ethiopia.”
almost 40 years later, and after a multitude other operations, some ethiopian families are still awaiting their journey to their promised land, israel. with remaining beta israel, another operation. part of this journey will include family reunification. some of these immigrants already have relatives in israel. operation “rock of israel” will be taking 180 ethiopians will be traveling home to israel this june.
waiting and being in limbo is uneasy. as we go through life, we all have windows of opportunity. windows for a childhood, windows for education, windows for starting a family, and windows for working and saving for the future. it is hard to fathom the anxiety and stress of those who are trying to make the best in a place which is temporary.
a jns article discusses the various beta families and their struggles. here is a link to read in detail about some of them.
it is not without irony that these families are almost 40 years out from operation moses. they have literally spent as much time in the proverbial wilderness than the children of israel in the original exodus. unlike their predecessors, however, will make it to their promised land, israel.
these individuals, however, will enter a much different israel than in 1984. they will enter a country upon which the beta israel represents approximately 1 percent of the population or 160,000. they enter a country were there is family and where beta israel has become elected officials. one of them, most importantly, is responsible for their integration into their new society. while their wait may have been longer, the israel which they are arriving to may be of greater comfort than those who came as part of operation moses.
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