Israel’s Ethiopian-Born Aliyah Minister to Travel to Country of Birth to Bring 500 Jews to Israel

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog (center) and Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata welcome 119 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, May 21, 2020. Photo: Shlomi Amsalem.

Israel’s Ethiopian-born Minister of Immigrant Absorption will be traveling to the country of her birth on Saturday to bring hundreds of the few remaining Jews in the African nation to Israel.

Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata will fly to Ethiopia with representatives of the Jewish Agency, where they will meet with a group of around 500 prospective immigrants from Addis Ababa and Gondar, and will accompany them back to Israel on two Jewish Agency planes, Israeli journalist Zvika Klein reported on Thursday.

The flights are part of the ongoing Operation Rock of Israel, which is set to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel by the end of January, comprising the bulk of the remaining Jews in the country.

Tamano-Shata commented, “It is a great mission and privilege for me to bring home many who have been waiting for decades for the dream of Jerusalem to come true.”

Isaac Herzog, the head of the Jewish Agency, said, “We expect thousands of immigrants to be reunited with their families after many years. The State of Israel has an obligation to act to end the painful saga that has lasted for generations.”

Tamano-Shata’s mission to Ethiopia closes a circle, as she was born in the Ethiopian village of Wuzaba in 1981 and came to Israel as part of the wave of Ethiopian aliyah known as Operation Moses in 1984.

In order to reach Israel, she, together with her father and five brothers, walked to Sudan, where they and thousands of others were airlifted to the Jewish state. Her mother was left behind and the family was only reunited several years later.

After receiving a law degree, Tamano-Shata became an activist, joined the Yesh Atid party in 2012, and was elected to the Knesset. She entered the government as Minister of Immigrant Absorption after joining the Blue and White party last year.

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