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Beta Israel

Shlomo Molla, Abatte Barihun, Hagit Yaso
Ethnic group
GroupBeta Israel
Population date125,000 - 130,000
Main regionIsrael 120,000 (2008)
1.75% of the Israeli population
Ethiopia3,188 - 8,700
United States1000

     Home | Ethnic Group | Beta Israel

Beta Israel ( - Beyte (beyt) Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EA: "Betä Əsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews ( : Yhudey Etiopiya, Ge'ez: "የኢትዮጵያ አይሁድዊ", ye-Ityoppya Ayhudi), are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires (Habesh or Abyssinia), nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray Regions.Nearly all of the Ethiopian Beta Israel community, more than 120,000 people, reside in Israel under its Law of Return, which gives Jews and those with Jewish parents or grandparents, and all of their spouses, the right to settle in Israel and obtain citizenship. The Israeli government has mounted rescue operations, most notably during Operation Moses (1984), Operation Sheba (1985) and Operation Solomon (1991) for their migration. Some immigration has continued up through present day. Today 81,000 Ethiopian Israelis were born in Ethiopia, while 38,500 or 32% of the community are native born Israelis.

The related Falasha Mura are the descendants of Beta Israel who converted to Christianity. Some are returning to the practices of Judaism, living in Falash Mura communities and observing halakha. Beta Israel spiritual leaders, including Liqa Kahnet Raphael Hadane have argued for the acceptance of the Falasha Mura as Jews. This claim has been a matter of controversy within Israeli society.

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