Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

Black Jews of Ethiopia

Adopted by the CCAR at the 90th Annual Convention of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Phoenix, Arizona, March 26-29, 1979

The plight of the 28.000 Jews who have lived in Ethiopia since the days of our ancient Kings and Prophets is desperate. Faced historically with landlessness, poverty, disease, illiteracy, discrimination and the enticements of missionaries, they have clung tenaciously to our tradition. They are now confronting revolution and civil war, drought and famine, in the five hundred scattered villages in which they insecurely reside. While aid is forthcoming from JDC, ORT and the Jewish Agency to relieve some of their domestic problems, it reaches only a small minority. Thousands have recently been dispossessed from their land and live uncared for as refugees in their own country. Scores have been killed, some have been enslaved, and others, who have fled the chaotic land; rot in refugee camps in bordering Sudan and Djibouti. Their only hope for survival is immediate migration to Israel, towards which they pray daily and where they want to go en masse. Some three hundred Ethiopian Jews now reside in Israel and have made an extraordinary adjustment.
We urge first of all that the black-out on these Black Jews be removed both in Israel and in America. We urge our constituent synagogues in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the rabbis associated with the Central Conference of American Rabbis to acquaint themselves with this dire problem facing a group that has been too long neglected. We urge American and World Jewish leadership and their organizations, including our own representatives on those Jewish bodies, to put their relief and rescue higher on the agendas of our concerns; and we appeal to the Israeli and American governments to use their own and other international diplomatic means to intensify their efforts to rescue them, in order to insure their survival as individuals and as a distinctive, authentic Black Jewish ethnic group.