Judaism

Posted by Stephanie Baker on 2012-10-18 18:42:00 | Views: 2722 |

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Judaism

Ethiopian Jewish children waiting to make aliyah.
Areas inhabited by Ethiopian Jews before their mass aliyah.

The Beta Israel, also known as the Falashas (though this term is considered pejorative), are a long-isolated group of African Jews who have lived in Ethiopia since antiquity. Their existence was not widely known to the outside world for many years, and they likewise were not aware of other Jewish groups outside of their own community.

They became known to the West during the 19th and 20th centuries, and were accepted as Jews by the Israeli government in 1975. After this, Operation Moses and Operation Solomon, conducted in 1984 and 1991, respectively, airlifted the vast majority of the Ethiopian Jewish population to Israel, where there is currently a population of 150,000 Beta Israel. A small Jewish community still exists in Ethiopia, although it is mostly composed of Falash Mura, Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity in the past, and as such have not been recognized as Jews by the State of Israel, but have returned to Judaism (the Falash Mura now number some 22,000).

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