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Jews in Ethiopia yearn for life in Israel, as cemeteries fill and family beckons

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GONDAR, Ethiopia (AFP) — The hillside Jewish cemetery in northern Ethiopia was never supposed to get so big.

The thousands of Ethiopian Jews buried there had hoped to die in Israel, but steep hurdles foiled their plans to immigrate.

“I hope Israel takes some responsibility before all of us die here,” Sitotaw Alene, 49, told AFP during a recent visit to the cemetery in the city of Gondar where his sister is buried.

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“We are falling like leaves,” he added.

A recent operation between December and March, in which 2,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown to Israel, was a rare bit of good news for the community.

But it was a mere fraction of those who want to immigrate, or make aliyah, and there are no immediate plans to accommodate the rest. An armed guard stands at the synagogue of the Ethiopian Jewish community in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia, on October 26, 2020. (Eduardo Soteras/AFP)

Sitotaw is adamant Israeli authorities must move quickly, before it is too late for him and his community.

“What concerns me is this cemetery is almost full,” he said, pointing to spots where blue-and-white headstones bearing the Star of David encroach on nearby wheatfields.

Before long “we won’t even have a burial place for ourselves.”

Left behind

The bulk of Ethiopia’s Jewish community moved to Israel in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Some were whisked over on secret........

© The Times of Israel

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