The calendar says that the 28th day of Iyyar is not only Yom Yershalayim (Jerusalem Day) but also Remembrance Day for Ethiopian Jews. This year it is Sunday, May 29th.
The Israeli Ethiopian community on this day remembers those who attempted the journey to Israel but did not make it alive.
We have written before about Ethiopian Jews (link), also known as “Beta Israel,” and their migration to Israel from 1980 to 1984. They mounted a massive journey, mostly on foot, to get to freedom. Some higher officials in Sudan cleared the way for their passage and Mossad agents were waiting for them to help them to security in Israel.
The journey was marked by disease, hunger, harassment, violence, robbery, and rape as they made their way through the Sudanese refugee camps, at which they had to stay for months and sometimes years. Some four thousand individuals were lost along the way.
Advised not to display their Jewish identities, they could not even give their loved ones proper burial in the camps or in the desert.
“Operation Moses” began in November 1984, an official Israeli governmental push finally to get the refugees into the country. Eight thousand persons were brought over the border in this operation, which was stopped abruptly reportedly due to an information leak. A second operation, “Operation Solomon,” in May 1991 brought 14,324 individuals into Israel within 36 hours, reuniting friends and family who had been left behind in the first operation.
There is a memorial to those we lost which was erected in March 2007 on Mount Herzl.