Introduction / History When the first Ethiopian Jews came to live in Israel, they often had to live in mobile homes in regions away from the better places. Housing conditions were not good and the Ethiopians were isolated and their children were a long distance from good schools. The adjustment was particularly hard for the older ones and even getting used to things like electricity was hard for them. It was said that taking a Falasha from his village was like taking a fish out of water.
Life began to get better for the Ethiopian Jews and in 1993 the immigrants were encouraged to buy homes in more central regions like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Many of them bought homes but mainly in the regions where the Israeli government had not wanted them to be. Short term housing had almost finished though.
The government helped to lessen unemployment for the Ethiopian Jews. Though unemployment is more for them compared to other Israeli people, things became better. Education has been better for Ethiopian children and the adults have been moved to where work is more readily available.
After the collapse of Communism in 1990, six thousand Beta Israelis were allowed by the Ethiopian government to emigrate to Israel. In 1991, the Israeli government transported by airplanes many Beta Israelis to Israel due to rebels attacking the Ethiopian government.
What are their lives like? Though there are yet difficulties, some things in the lives of the Ethiopians have improved. There are Ethiopian restaurants and Ethiopian music is now an influence. The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews is one organization that has been helping the Ethiopians. Because of their involvement, the Jewish festival of Sigd became an official state holiday in 2008. The Ethiopians in Israel celebrate by fasting, reading from the Tanakh and having a feast to celebrate that they accept Jewish law.
The older generation of Ethiopian Jews are finding life difficult and the young are guiding their parents and grandparents regards living in Israel. That is contrary to life in Ethiopia where it is the older ones who are consulted. There is an increasing crime level among the Ethiopian youth.
While keeping their heritage of Jewish life in Ethiopia it is hoped they will feel more at home in Israel. (Maybe some Messianic Jews could befriend the Ethiopian Jews and give them hope in Jesus Christ).
Haymanot is the term used among the Ethiopian Jews in Israel for Jewish religion. They speak Amharic, Tigrinya and Hebrew.
References http://www.myjewishlearning.com/ israel/ Contemporary_Life/ Society_and_Religious_Issues/ ethiopians_in_israel.shtml [For complete URL remove spaces after the forward slashes for the preceding URL. Or visit http://ow.ly/zAAnA for the same page.]