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Keeping the promise

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-02-09

Operation Promise

Operation Promise

A project to help all the remaining Jews in Ethiopia emigrate to Israel has started. Operation Promise is a $160m initiative by the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Federations of North America, to support Jewish people in plight across the globe including Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union.

Already 150 people from Ethiopia have arrived in Israel with more expected to be arriving over the coming months. The men, women and children landed in the early hours of Wednesday morning at Ben Gurion airport.
Over the last couple of decades over 20,000 Jews from Ethiopia have been airlifted to Israel, Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991. Operation Promise aims to help the remaining 20,000, known as Falash Mora, Jews who were forcibly converted to Christianity over the last two hundred years in order to survive in Ethiopia.
Observing and helping the Ethiopians are over 100 Americans from different States.
Participant Susan Stern form New York wrote on the Operation Promises blog
"Twenty-four hours here and I think my life has been changed. I know my life has been changed. Fifteen years ago I was privileged to be on the ground when the Ethiopians landed in Israel with Operation Solomon and I watched with great pride at what I felt was a miracle of the Jewish people bringing people from the four corners of the earth and bringing them home and I saw an incredibly serene, pristine people coming off of that plane and I never understood where they had come from."
She added: "One of the reasons I came on this trip was to complete the cycle, to try to understand the Ethiopian people and the people that we helped 15 years ago, how they lived and where they came from. Today, visiting in their homes, and seeing how people live and learning that this is how they all lived - in a mud shack, six people with no light – and all they have is their hope, all they have is the possibility that one day they will be reunited with their family in Israel, one day that they will be in Israel," she added.
Operation Promise also says it will work to help integrate the Ethiopians and give them the support they need to join Israeli society. 
In the former Soviet Union, Operation Promise Operation Promise is focused on making sure no Jew goes hungry and will work with elderly Jews as well as improve identity programmes for young Jews.
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Operation Promise