March 29, 2007
Ethiopian authorities closed the main Jewish aid compound that serves the Falash Mura population waiting to immigrate to Israel.
The closure of the compound in Gondar comes about two years after the Ethiopian government formally barred the group that administered the compound, the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, from operating in the country.
Since that order, NACOEJ has continued to fund operations at the Gondar compound while intermediaries have run the school, nutrition center, employment programs and Jewish educational activities there. The closure of the Gondar compound comes 2 1/2 years after the closure of NACOEJ’s other aid compound in the country, in Addis Ababa.
In Ethiopia, there remain an estimated 7,000 Falash Mura — Ethiopians of Jewish ancestry — whose progenitors converted to Christianity several generations ago, but who now are returning to Judaism in a bid to immigrate to Israel. "Ethiopian authorities and numerous American Jewish federation executives are working hard to remedy the situation" to reopen the aid compound, according to Orlee Guttman, NACOEJ's director of operations.