Watch: 8,000 Jews Stranded in Ethiopia Celebrate Israeli Independence

Ethiopian Jews in Gondar (Image credit: YouTube screenshot)

Just in time for Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) on Thursday, a powerful video has been released showing how the nearly 8,000 Ethiopian Jews left in Gondar celebrated the independence of the Jewish state - while expressing their fervent desire to come home to Israel.

The video was produced by Ezri Tubi, founder of the activist group Boomerang - Fighting for Israel. Tubi spent a week in Ethiopia getting to know those left behind "who are waiting to reunite with their families in Israel" that were already recognized as Jews and allowed to return. But those still in Gondar are left living "in great poverty since leaving their villages many years ago heading for Israel."

Most of those left behind are considered part of Falash Mura, the descendants of Ethiopian Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity a few generations ago. However, members of the community making aliyah have undergone conversion as part of the process in the past, in order to clarify their status as Jews according to halakha (Jewish law). In other videos posted by Tubi from his trip, the Jews in Gondar said they would gladly go through conversion.

And yet despite a decision by the Israeli government in 2015 to bring the last 8,000 Ethiopian Jews home to Israel, three long years later the decision has still not been implemented, and recent immigration budget cuts place it's future in jeopardy.

Concerning the delay in bringing these Jews home and allowing them to reunite with their families and people, Tubi remarked: "Please do not ask me why this is the situation - I still don't have the answers. I just want to give you a small taste of the faces behind the story."

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...הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם! (ישעיה  מ:ט)

...Raise your voice with strength, herald of Jerusalem; raise it, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your G-d!"

(Isaiah 40:9)

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© 2017 by The Jerusalem Herald, a division of Yashar Communications