• Photos: The Jewish Agency for Israel
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After 20 Years, Ethiopian Sisters Make Aliyah

The Jewish Agency for Israel - 30 May 2022

About 20 years ago, Workanesh (45) and Ataklit (40) parted from their parents, brothers and sisters. While their parents, brothers and sisters fulfilled their dreams of making Aliyah to Israel, the two sisters remained in Ethiopia with their husbands and small children.

Despite the sadness of parting and being without their mother for the first time in their lives, they were thrilled for their family and prayed too they would soon follow. But as the years passed, their day for Aliyah never came. The sisters struggled not to fall into sadness and despair. They held on to faith and one another, praying that they would be reunited with their parents and family in Israel. The sisters never parted; when one lost hope, the other would remain strong.

Without their mother by their side, they gave birth, raised their children and went through happy, as well as harsh and sad, times on their own. Their mother in Israel also shed many tears for the grandchildren she had never met.

The sisters left their villages and went to Gondar to live with the Jewish community and to apply for Aliyah. Their life became that of a refugee in their own country. Their husbands struggled to get work, being told that because they were from the Jewish community they were regarded as outsiders who would only stay temporarily. Why should someone hire them? They work in daily jobs, often more than 12 hours a day, for about 15 US dollars for the entire day of work.

A few weeks ago, Ataklit finally received the message she had been waiting for nearly 20 years: she, her husband and their six children (23, 21, 19, 17, 15 and 13) are approved to make Aliyah! She was overjoyed but, at the same time, was deeply concerned. Can it be that her prayer has been answered but not that of her sister? Workenesh put on a happy face for her sister, but she cried herself to sleep at night. After two days that felt like an eternity, she too received the message she longed for: she, her husband and their nine children (24, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10 and 5) are all approved for Aliyah!

Their family in Israel are waiting for them excitedly. Their mother, counting the days until she can embrace her daughters and grandchildren.

The children now have a new dream – after they make Aliyah, they wish to join the IDF, to defend their homeland and then go on to higher education. When asked how they have so much hope after such a long wait? They reply that now that this long-awaited dream and prayer have been fulfilled, they believe their future dreams and prayers are also just a matter of hard work, faith and time.

The family is expected to arrive in Israel on 1 June. Please help the Ethiopian Jews who are eligible to make Aliyah and reunite them with their families! 


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