Ben Gurion Airport was abuzz with excitement on Monday as 240 Ethiopian Jews landed in Israel, their spiritual homeland. After waiting years to make aliyah, they were finally approved for this life-changing move as part of a final push to send the remaining Ethiopian Jews to the Holy Land.
This series of flights is called Operation Dove’s Wings, and 4Zion has been deeply involved in making it happen.
The new immigrants – dressed in their white holiday clothes to mark this milestone – were greeted at the airport by excited family, members of the press, and The Fellowship’s Rabbi Eckstein and Yael Eckstein, who saw many emotional reunions between brothers and sisters, parents and children – including a grandmother who met her five grandchildren for the first time and a 25-year-old woman who was reunited with her brother and grandmother.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein greeted the crowd in the Ethiopian native language Amharic, quoting the Amharic expression that states, “Things in the heart must be stated.” He spoke of the first time he was in Ethiopia, 15 years ago, when he saw the little children and the elderly sitting in a little cellar without food.
”It’s a special day because 250 Ethiopians have come home to reunite with their families. This day comes from God with the help and partnership of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish people, and our millions of Christian friends over the years who have contributed to the Jewish Agency in the past 10 years over $100 million to help bring you home. But the job is not done. There are still more people to bring home. Not just from Ethiopia, but from other countries. So I wish, on your behalf, to thank our Fellowship donors all over the world for making this dream and this miracle possible.”