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Ethiopians in Israel

Updated: May 6

As you know, Israel is a diverse country made up of immigrants from all over the world! But, have you ever heard the story of how the Ethiopians came on Aliyah? Scroll down to find out!

Two Ethiopian women standing next to each other

In the 1970s, a new wave of immigrants made Aliyah to Israel. The Ethiopians who came were fleeing war and religious persecution. In 1985, in what was called Operation Moses, 8000 Ethiopian Jews were rescued by the IDF/Mossad from Sudan. Then, in 1991, 14,500 more were brought to Israel on Operation Solomon in less than 2 days!

Now, there are about 155,300 Ethiopians in Israel. Around 67,800 of them were born in Israel.

With each wave of immigrants comes new traditions and aspects of culture. Ethiopian Jews brought over aspects of Judaism that were different. For instance, Ethiopian Jews keep biblical Judaism, so they don’t follow the Talmud (Jewish oral laws). Rather, they are very strong in their traditions.

One such custom is the holiday of Sigd. Sigd marks the celebration of the Jewish people receiving the Torah. Ethiopians pray for the return of Jews to Israel on this holiday. They dress traditionally in robes, pray, carry Torah scrolls, and brightly colored umbrellas. This tradition marks the Ethiopian community honoring their roots.

Other aspects of Ethiopian culture brought to Israel include music and food. Talent from the Ethiopian community has gained wider recognition in recent years, such as the artists "Cafe Shahor Hazak." This year's Eurovision nominee, Eden Alene, is from the Ethiopian community.

And of course, you need a taste of Ethiopian food. There are some delicious restaurants in Tel Aviv where you can sample Ethiopian cuisine, such as Balinjera. Try the spongelike bread, injera dipped in spicy stews served with vegetables. Another flavor of Israel!