Thousands of Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews whose forebears converted to Christianity in the 19th century but have since returned to Judaism) are still waiting in Ethiopia in squalid conditions to be allowed to immigrate to Israel and undergo formal return to Judaism (Hebrew: giyur lechumra, literally meaning ‘strict conversion’). Many have waited for decades while many Falash mura relatives of theirs have already been permitted to immigrate to Israel. It is time to put an end to this disgraceful humanitarian disaster and permit the remaining Falash Mura to immigrate to Israel.
However, the story does not end there. Some half of all Ethiopian Jews are still in Ethiopia. The 150 000 strong Beta Avraham Ethiopian Crypto-Jewish community whose ancestors converted to Christianity in the 19th century are outwardly Christian yet secretly practice Ethiopian Judaism in their homes and in hidden synagogues in caves and in forests. This community is endogamous and is therefore as halakhically eligible for giyur lechumra as the Falash Mura.
The global Jewish community and Israel should take concerted action to help those Beta Avraham who wish to immigrate to Israel to return to open practice of Judaism and subsequently facilitate their immigration to and giyur lechumra in Israel.