ICEJ Welcomes 155 New Immigrants from Ethiopia

By: Annaliese Johnson, ICEJ Staff

On Thursday, March 30, the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport was abuzz with activity, music, and welcome banners. Israeli officials and ICEJ staff stood ready with Israeli flags and candy, eagerly awaiting the arrival of 155 Jewish olim (new immigrants) from Ethiopia. The youngest was just four months old, and the oldest was 70 years old.

This Aliyah flight, sponsored by the ICEJ, not only represents the homecoming of Jewish people to Israel but also unites families. Despite the ongoing strikes and protests related to Israel’s proposed judicial reforms, Aliyah never stops! These olim are joyfully welcomed to start their lives afresh in the Promised Land, the home of their forefathers.

God is still delivering His people today! As the Hebrew prophets wrote in the book of Zephaniah, “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, My worshipers, the daughters of My scattered ones will bring My offering” (Zephaniah 3:10, Tree of Life Version).

As part of the government-approved Rock of Israel II operation, 3,000 Ethiopian olim are approved for Aliyah, and the hope is that all will arrive by June this year. With yesterday’s flight we celebrated crossing the 2,000 mark. This arrival is especially timely, as these olim will celebrate Yom HaAliyah and Pesach (Passover) in just a few days for the first time in Israel. Yom HaAliyah marks the day that the Israelites entered the land of Israel in the Pesach story, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt and into the promised land.

Faces glowing with excitement and awe, many olim knelt to kiss the ground as they set their eyes upon the land of Israel for the first time. One man, out of exuberance, raised his arms to the sky and shouted praises to God for bringing him home at last. Women dressed in traditional white dress smiled shyly as they accepted Israeli flags. Young mothers elegantly carried their babies on their backs as fathers in their nicest suits proudly led their daughters by the hand down the stairs to be welcomed with delicious treats and more Israeli flags.

A testament of God’s faithfulness and care, families who have waited for many long years to be reunited with those who came in prior decades can now be together in the land of which they have been dreaming for their entire lives. For the younger generations on the flight, this journey meant meeting relatives for the first time, such as grandparents who could finally embrace their kin in warm hugs.

This community, which traces its roots back to the time of King Solomon’s reign, if not even further back to the time of Moses and his Ethiopian wife (Numbers 12:1), has been through intense trials, adaptations, and adversity but is strong and committed to starting new lives afresh in Israel.

For these newest arrivals, many challenges await as cultural and language barriers must be bridged. Landing at Ben Gurion Airport is the beginning of a journey that can take years before the olim feel fully integrated. Upon arrival, families will go to Aliyah centers across the country, including in Tzfat, Haifa, Beit Alfa, Be’er Sheva, Arad, and Ibim

Thanks to your generous donations and prayers, we at the ICEJ are excited to sponsor Aliyah flights and assist immigrants as they begin new lives.

Make your best gift today to support the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts with Ethiopian Jews.