Ethiopian Family Reunification | The Jewish Agency - U.S.Ethiopian Family Reunification

Ethiopian Aliyah and Family Reunification

Reuniting Jewish Ethiopian Families in Israel

Ethiopian Family Reunification

For more than 50 years, The Jewish Agency, along with our partners, The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and Keren Hayesod, has assisted over
95,000 Ethiopian Jews in their journey to Israel.
But our job is not yet done; there are still thousands waiting to come to the Jewish State and be reunited with family members.

Operation Zur Israel

In September 2020, the Government of Israel approved the Aliyah of 2,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community to arrive in Israel by early 2021.

“This government decision will enable the dreams of families that have been separated for over a decade to come true – to finally be reunited, in Israel,” said Isaac Herzog, Chairman of The Jewish Agency.

With the launch of Operation Zur Israel, which kicked off in earnest in December 2020, Ethiopian families were reunited in Israel after more than a decade of separation. The operation was completed in March 2021.

Thank you to our partners, JFNA and Keren Hayesod, and donors around the world whose support makes this incredible Aliyah operation possible.

Photographer: Dudi Salem
Photographer: Dudi Salem

Every day I pray it’s my turn to make Aliyah with my family, for our dream to come true.

– Liya, an Ethiopian woman who has been waiting to make Aliyah and reunite with her sister for more than a decade

  • Ephrem, 21, made Aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia in March 2020 with nine family members. For as long as he could remember, his family prayed for the day they would move to Israel, where Ephrem’s other relatives already lived.

    Ephrem's Story
  • When they were young girls, sisters Liya and Ester made a promise that they would forever stay close to each other. Today, these sisters, once inseparable, have not seen each other in 11 years.

    Liya's Story
  • After losing her mother at age six, Fentanesh Gasasa helped raise her younger sister in Ethiopia before they made Aliyah. At 17, she continued looking after her sister in Israel while applying herself to her studies.

    Fentanesh's Story
  • Vadia and her children made Aliyah from Ethiopia in 2006 but Vadia’s father, Zigala, had to stay behind. For 13 years, Vadia was separated from her father and could only see him in a framed photo in her home in Israel.

An Unbelievable Journey: Benny Goshen came to Israel from Ethiopia in 1989 at the age of five and a half, after a long and dangerous trek through the desert to the Sudanese border. Discover Benny’s incredible story >

Reunited at Last: Yaliganesh Addis moved to Gondar, Ethiopia, with her parents and seven siblings to wait for approval from the Israeli government to make Aliyah. After a decade, the approvals started coming and many of the Addises were able to make Aliyah. Soon all the Addises had been able to move to Israel except Yaliganesh. She was left behind, along with her husband and children in Ethiopia, to continue waiting. In late 2020, the Israeli Government finally approved Yaliganesh and her family’s Aliyah application, through Operation Zur Israel. “I have been longing for this moment for 10 years,” said Kefale Addis, Yaliganesh’s little brother. “We never thought we would be separated and that Yaliganesh would be left to suffer in Ethiopia alone all this time.” Finally, the Addis family reunited in Israel, never to be separated again — meet them in the video below.

Zoog Productions for The Jewish Agency for Israel
Zoog Productions for The Jewish Agency for Israel

The incredible Addis family: hear their story