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An Ethiopian Jewish Family finally made whole in Israel

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26 Feb 2021
An Ethiopian Jewish Family finally made whole in Israel

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem continues to actively support the remarkable wave of Aliyah happening right now, despite all the coronavirus-related travel bans. Even though Ben Gurion Airport has been shut down to commercial flights for weeks, we have still sponsored special evacuation flights for 557 Jewish immigrants to Israel in the first two months of 2021. This includes 100 Russian Jews who arrived from Moscow and 50 French Jews who came from Paris just within the past 48 hours, as well as our largest ICEJ-chartered Aliyah flight in over twenty years which landed earlier this month.

That recent banner flight was part of the Israeli government’s ongoing “Operation Rock of Israel” airlift, which aims to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. The ICEJ has flown over 400 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel so far this year – despite the recent closure of the country’s main airport.

For many of these Ethiopian olim (newcomers), their Aliyah journey has taken several decades, with most of that time spent in harsh living conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa awaiting their turn to board a flight to the Promised Land. Those conditions have only worsened over the past year due to intense famine, a civil war, locust swarms, and the corona pandemic, not to mention the long separation from loved ones and delayed dreams of finally reaching the Land of Israel. Each new flight brings dozens of very touching life stories of individuals and families, and we are delighted to share some of them with you.

Amane Bitao, along with his wife and three children, were among the 302 Ethiopian Jews who arrived on a specially chartered Aliyah flight sponsored by the ICEJ on 12 February. His arrival in Israel marked the complete reunification of his entire family after 11 years of separation. Today is a very remarkable day for them – the final day of his quarantine – after which the whole family, including mother, three sisters and two brothers, will finally be able to celebrate their reunion in the Land of Israel.

Almost two decades have passed since the Bitao family decided to make the journey home to Israel. The first ones who managed to reach Israel were two sisters that made Aliyah with their husbands and children 11 years ago, settling in Petah Tikvah. That left the mother and three siblings still in Ethiopia. Eight years later, mom was granted permission to immigrate to Israel. But the three remaining siblings – sister Tedfaletz and brothers Shigao and Amane – were left with their families in Gondar, clinging to hope of coming one day. The Bitao family was torn apart and longed to be made whole again.

Tedfaletz describes the difficulties of living in the Gondar transit camps. The Jewish families there have all experienced abuse from Ethiopian landlords who charge them exorbitant rents to live in hovels without running water and electricity.

But the Bitao family is truly a testimony of God's faithfulness. Tedfalech and Shigao, together with their families, finally received approval to make Aliyah in early January. However, their joy was overshadowed by worries that their older brother Amane could not join them and would have to wait for the next flight. A few days after arriving, they then learned of the closure of Ben Gurion airport and feared for their brother, especially since he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service days in the Ethiopian army.

After weeks of anxious waiting, exciting news came that a specially chartered flight arranged by Israeli and Jewish Agency officials and sponsored by the Christian Embassy would be granted an exception to land at Ben Gurion due to their dire circumstances. Among the 302 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants on board were Amane and his wife and children. It was a moment of great joy for the whole family to finally make it to the Jewish homeland after so many years of separation.

We invite you to partner with us as we continue to bring God's people back to Israel from the four corners of the earth. This is your chance to be a part of history, to fulfill biblical prophecy, and to change the lives of these Jewish families forever.

Give your best gift today to support the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!

 

 

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