Press Release | Israel Welcomes 2000 New Immigrants From Ethiopia

The Jewish Agency and Jewish Federations of North America Applaud Government of Israel Decision to Bring 2,000 Ethiopian Olim by Early 2021


New Ethiopian Immigrants to be Reunited with Family in Israel


Jerusalem – October 12, 2020 — The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) applaud today’s decision by the Government of Israel to approve the Aliyah (immigration) of 2,000 members of the Ethiopian community who are expected to arrive in Israel by early 2021. These Olim (immigrants) are among the thousands in Ethiopia waiting, some for over a decade, to be reunited with their family in Israel. The Jewish Agency is immediately commencing implementation of the groundwork needed to facilitate the Aliyah of these 2,000 new immigrants, including preparing the Olim for their new lives in Israel.


Many thousands are waiting in Ethiopia to join their families in Israel. Most have left their homes and villages to wait in the major cities of Gondar and Addis Ababa. Despite their ongoing limbo and harsh conditions, the communities in these cities maintain a strong Jewish identity and carry out daily Jewish rituals. Aliyah from Ethiopia is a key mission of JFNA and The Jewish Agency and is central to their collaborative work. Over the past 40 years, the two organizations have worked together to bring more than 92,000 Ethiopian Olim to Israel.


“Helping Ethiopians and Jews worldwide come home to Israel is one of clearest demonstrations of our love and commitment to the State of Israel, which is central to our core mission,” said Mark Wilf, Chair of JFNA's Board of Trustees. “And it’s all made possible because of our historic partnership with The Jewish Agency.”


The Jewish Agency works in full cooperation with the Government of Israel, primarily with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, on Ethiopian Aliyah. The organization has been authorized by the Government of Israel to operate all Aliyah preparation in Ethiopia, as well as oversee the arrival and integration of these new immigrants into Israeli society. All Aliyah arrival and integration is carried out in compliance with the Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidelines. Once the Olim reach Israel, The Jewish Agency provides for any necessary post-landing quarantine arrangements and will then move the new immigrants to absorption centers where they will be integrated into life in Israel. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting limitation on mobility, The Jewish Agency has brought over 300 Olim from Ethiopia to Israel.


“This government decision will enable the dreams of families that have been separated for over a decade to come true – to finally be reunited, in Israel,” said Isaac Herzog, Chairman of The Jewish Agency. “It is our moral duty to answer the prayers and pleas of those waiting in Ethiopia to come to Israel.”


Due to COVID restrictions, the cost of flights from Ethiopia is high. There are also extensive preparations for Aliyah needed on the ground in Ethiopia, including increased staffing, education courses and healthcare. Support for this effort is provided in part by Jewish Federations through their collective overseas dollars to The Jewish Agency. Additional funds needed to cover the approximately $4M cost of Aliyah preparations and flights for these 2,000 new Olim will be raised collaboratively. This will be done through a joint global effort of The Jewish Agency, the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren HaYesod and private donors from the Jewish world and among friends of Israel.


JFNA and The Jewish Agency are awaiting final approval from the Government of Israel to bring all those waiting in Ethiopia to Israel.