by: Rebecca Brimmer, Bridges for Peace
I stood on the tarmac at Ben Gurion airport with Israeli officials and numerous journalists as we anxiously awaited the arrival of 180 new Ethiopian immigrants. Also present were members of Israel’s Ethiopian community, who were eager to see family that they hadn’t seen in years. The flight was the first of several slated to arrive during 2022. These flights are part of “Operation Tzur Israel” (Rock of Israel).
With tears in my eyes, I watched as an older man dressed in traditional garb was surrounded by family members he hadn’t seen in more than a decade. Children eagerly reached out to him; grandchildren he had never met. Others fell on their faces and kissed the ground, overcome with emotion that their long wait was over.
With civil war raging in Ethiopia, food shortages and increasing tension, Israel realized this would be a rescue mission. With the help of Christian and Jewish donors around the world, lives are literally being saved. Bridges for Peace is honored to be one of the donor organizations. In Jewish thought, if you save one life, you have saved a universe.
By the end of the year, 10,000 Ethiopian Jews will have arrived and become part of the multi-faceted State of Israel. These newest Israelis will live in absorption centers for two or three years as they learn Hebrew, look for jobs and become accustomed to life in a modern society. Coming from a simple, agrarian lifestyle in Ethiopia, the cultural changes will be overwhelming at first. We pray for their successful integration.
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