by Rabbi Michael Schwab
Over Passover I spoke about making the Exodus narrative relevant to each of us through acting on the lessons we have learned from that monumental time in our history. In fact, there is a modern equivalent to our ancient story, the Aliyah of Ethiopian Jews. And though the initial act of redemption made possible by the State of Israel in the 80’s and 90’s was truly inspirational, there is more work to be done!
There are currently approximately 8,000 Ethiopians who identify as Jewish who are still left and wish to make Aliyah to Israel. The Israeli government and the Jewish people have the power to make this modern exodus happen. The money is there and the Jewish Agency for Israel is ready to receive them. Yet, for various political reasons the current government has not fulfilled its initial pledge to accomplish this. According to our Torah portion Kedoshim this week, our source for compassion and our imperative to care for others comes from none other than God. Therefore we should channel the words of our Parsha “Kedoshim Tihiyu Ki Kadosh Ani Adonai Eloheichem”. “You shall be Holy for I, the Lord your God am holy”, by taking action to fulfill this injunction to act like God in holiness.
Therefore I invite each of you to take one or more of the following actions: 1) Write an email to the Prime Minister congratulating Mr. Netanyahu on bringing more Ethiopian Jews to Israel, and encouraging him to complete the mission of bringing the 8000+ from Addis and Gondar to Israel. firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Write or contact our local federation to help us advocate with the Israeli government. E-mails can be sent to Steve Nasatir at StevenNasatir@juf.org.
3) Encourage our Israeli friends and family to advocate and raise awareness in Israel with Knesset and the PM. Feel free to forward this article https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/8000-empty-chairs/ to anyone you wish to raise awareness.
4) Donate to the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry NACOEJ (the President is Rabbi Jerome Epstein, formerly of USCJ) http://www.nacoej.org/support-us/ways-to-donate.
Together we can help facilitate a modern Exodus in our time and participate in a sacred endeavor! Shabbat Shalom!