Family Origin: Ethiopia, Rehovot, Israel 2008

Family Origin: Ethiopia, Rehovot, Israel 2008

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Often framed as a monolithic society, Israel is in fact made up of the many stories of the immigrating families who have built their lives there, united under the values of a shared heritage and history. The Israeli family has a distinct blend of customs from their original home country and the homeland.

Immigration to Israel is known as aliyah (ascent) and a newcomer as an oleh, one who has risen up, as if having attained new heights arriving in the Biblical, historic, and religious homeland of the Jewish people. The elders in these photographs had reasons for aliyah as diverse as their backgrounds.

The reality for new arrivals to Israel was often more harsh than the promised dream of “a land flowing with milk and honey”. These challenges are a reminder of the complexity of building one nation that includes Jewish people from every corner of the earth.



Ethiopian Jews, are the Jewish communities located in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires (Habesha or Abyssinia), currently divided between Amhara and Tigray regions.

Beta Israel lived in North and North-Western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, among populations that were Muslim and predominantly Christian. The Beta Israel made renewed contacts with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century. After Halakhic and constitutional discussions, Israeli officials decided on March 14, 1977 that the Israeli Law of Return applied to the Beta Israel. The Israeli government mounted aliyah operations to transport the people to Israel. These activities included Operation Brothers in Sudan between 1979 and 1990 (this includes the major operations Moses and Joshua), and in the 1990s from Addis Ababa (which includes Operation Solomon).

Most of the 119,500 Ethiopian Israelis as of 2009 were born in Israel. 38,500 or 32% of the community had at least one parent born in Ethiopia.

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