The Board of Governors
October 2010 Heshvan 5771
Resolution: Multi-Year Commitment: Falash Mura
Whereas: the Government of Israel has decided to continue to enable approved members of the Falash Mura community from Ethiopia to immigrate to Israel, and;
Whereas: JAFI has been requested by the Government to take over the operations of the compound for the Falash Mura in Gondar, Ethiopia, and;
Whereas: JAFI is in final negotiations for an agreement with the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (“NACOEJ”), who have been operating the compound in Gondar. Under this agreement, JAFI will assume all the operations of NACOEJ in Gondar, and;
Whereas: JAFI is interested in allowing the approved Falash Mura families in Gondar to begin a program of Jewish identity while they are awaiting their aliyah, and;
Whereas: there is a list of potential olim ("the 8700 list") that has been agreed upon with the Ethiopian community in Israel and NACOEJ, and;
Whereas: the Government of Israel is expected to approve in the near future a resolution under which the Ministry of Interior will check within 7 months from the resolution date the eligibility of all the names on the 8700 list. All families will be notified whether or not they have been approved for aliyah. Under this resolution, approved olim will arrive in Israel at a rate of about 200 olim per month, and;
Whereas: JAFI will make every effort to enable all approved families to immigrate within three years, and then to close down the compound in Gondar. After that date, all candidates for aliyah will go through the JAFI offices in Addis Ababa, and;
Whereas: carrying out the intent of the arrangement described above will require a multi-year financial commitment by JAFI;
Therefore be it resolved that:
1. A multi-year budget of $2,215 thousand for the years 2011-2013 is approved for JAFI's participation in funding the operation of the compound in Gondar.
2. A multi-year budget of $2,507 thousand for the years 2011-2013 is approved for JAFI's participation in funding the program of Jewish identity.
3. The Finance Department is authorized to incur, on a multi-year basis, financial obligations for implementation of the undertakings of JAFI as described in sections 1 and 2 above.
4. Implementation of paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of this resolution shall be conditional on completion of the agreement with NACOEJ and obtaining such understandings from the Government of Israel as the Chairman of the Executive and the Director General believe are appropriate.
Operation Solomon in 1991 brought to Israel the last of the Ethiopian Jews that were members of the "Beta Israel" community. Left behind were thousands of members of the Falash Mura community as the Government of Israel (GOI) decided not to approve their immigration based on the conclusion that they were not eligible under the Law of Return since they had converted from Judaism in prior generations. During the ensuing years, much pressure was put on the GOI to approve their aliyah and the Chief Rabbinate recognized them as Jews.
In 1999, a complete list was compiled of all the members of the Falash Mura community that were living in Addis Ababa, Gondar and some 150 villages. The GOI decided to check the eligibility of all the families on the list and complete the aliyah of those approved by August 2008.
At the same time hundreds of families that were not included in the "complete list" started to leave their villages and congregate in Addis and Gondar. They all claimed to be members of the Falash Mura community and that it was only by mistake that their names were not included on the list. The GOI, for many years, refused to check their eligibility for aliyah. The result was that the community of people living a traditional Jewish life was formed in Gondar.
Their life in Gondar was very difficult as they had left their villages and were living in Gondar with few financial resources. They have been receiving aid from the American Jewish communities. These communities have been putting pressure on the GOI to check the eligibility of those waiting in Gondar. Also the Ethiopian Government has been pressuring as they are not happy with thousands of their citizens waiting to emigrate.
In June, 2010 a delegation including Eli Cohen, Director General of the Aliyah and Absorption Department and the Director General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, visited Ethiopia and met with various local government and officials plus representatives of the Jewish organizations operating in Ethiopia. As a result of this visit, Eli Cohen presented to the Prime Minister's office a proposal suggesting a three-year plan to check the eligibility of those waiting in Gondar (within 7 months) and assure their aliyah within 3 years at a rate of 200 per month. During this 3 year period, JAFI will continue to operate all the services presently provided by NACOEJ in Gondar. At the end of this period, the compound in Gondar will be closed.