Beta Israel

Scope note

Beta Israel also known as Ethiopian Jews are Jews that developed and lived for centuries in the area of Kingdom of Aksum and the Ethiopian Empire that is currently divided between Amhara and Tigray Regions of Ethiopia. Most of these peoples have emigrated to Israel since the late 20th century.

Beta Israel lived in northern and northwestern Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, alongside populations that were Muslim and predominantly Christian. Most of them were concentrated in the area around and to the north of Lake Tana, in the Gondar region among the Wolqayit, Shire and Tselemt, Dembia, Segelt, Quara, and Belesa.

The Beta Israel made renewed contacts with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century. After Halakhic and constitutional discussions, Israeli officials decided on March 14, 1977, that the Israeli Law of Return applied to the Beta Israel. The Israeli and American governments mounted aliyah operations to transport the people to Israel. These activities included Operation Brothers in Sudan between 1979 and 1990 (this includes the major operations Moses and Joshua), and in the 1990s from Addis Ababa (which includes Operation Solomon).

By the end of 2008, there were 119,300 people of Ethiopian descent in Israel, including nearly 81,000 people born in Ethiopia and about 38,500 native-born Israelis (about 32 percent of the community) with at least one parent born in Ethiopia.


Beta Israel

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