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Historical Reference

After King David’s son Solomon died, the Israelites divided the one kingdom into two. The Northern Kingdom was called Israel and included ten of the twelve tribes. Living in the north were the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, and Gad. The Southern Kingdom was called Judah and included the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. Immersed throughout both kingdoms were members of the priestly family of Levi.

In 722 BC, Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, taking captive and deporting the members of the ten tribes. In approximately 586 BC, the Southern Kingdom was conquered by Babylon, the Temple destroyed, and the people taken captive. Around 445 BC, Nehemiah led a remnant of the Jewish People back to Jerusalem and rebuilt its walls and gates. Over 500 years later, in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and, again, Jewish People dispersed through persecution into the world at large. By all these means, Jewish People have come to reside all over the world.

Ethiopian Jews

The Beta Israel of Gondar, the Beta Avraham of Addis Ababa, and the Gefat of Woliso and Hosanna have endured persecution for their “felasha” or “foreigner” status among Ethiopians for centuries. Many believe they are from the tribe of Dan. Thousands were rescued from poverty and brought to Israel during the massive airlifts of 1984, 1985, and 1991. The Aliyah (immigration to Israel) program sponsored by Israel has been stopped and resumed a number of times since then. Only those Jewish People who have not converted to another religion, but remain solely Jewish in their faith, are permitted to make Aliyah. Most recently Aliyah of Ethiopian Jews was ended by Israel in August 2013 and many fear this is truly the end as it is believed there are no more truly Jewish People left in Ethiopia.

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