Nearly 100 Ethiopian Jews landed in Israel on Monday in the first wave of new immigration since the government said last year that it would let some of the 8,000 remaining community members join relatives in Israel.
Local Ethiopian community members welcomed the newcomers after years of delays. Israel recognizes the community’s Jewish roots but does not consider them fully Jewish, so they require special approval to immigrate that has not always been forthcoming.
Atersau Baiye, 61, said he had been waiting for over 12 years to come to Israel and be reunited with his daughter, who lives in Tel Aviv.
“I am very happy to be here and excited to see my daughter, but it’s a mixed feeling,” he said. Baiye said that because he immigrated with his wife and six kids, he was forced to leave two other children behind in Ethiopia. “I don’t know if we will see them again.”