The story of the Beta Israel’s return to the Land of Israel is one of broken promises, secret agreements, and the tenacity of an ancient community in the face of unimaginable danger. While the origin story of Ethiopian Jews remains unclear, their courage, faith, and love for the Jewish homeland, along with the daring of the Mossad and the activism of North American Jews, resulted in the return of thousands of Jews to Israel.

00:00 Intro
00:48 Origin stories of the Ethiopian Jews
01:34 Ethiopian Jewish beliefs and rituals
01:49 Christian persecution of Beta Israel
03:09 Ethiopian Jewish delegation walks to Israel
04:27 Joseph Halevy visits Ethiopia
06:06 Ben Gurion and diplomacy with Ethiopia
06:17 Ethiopian Jews begin escaping to Israel
07:36 Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s declaration
08:04 Persecution of Ethiopian Jews
08:51 Activist Ferede Aklum and Mossad hatch a plan
09:46 The Beta Israel trek to Sudan
10:16 Mossad’s abandoned resort operation
11:43 8,000 Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel by air
12:12 Ethiopian Israelis successfully pressure government
12:42 Beta Israel’s contribution to the story
13:36 Reflections on Israeli society

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Image and footage credits:
Kan Archive
AAEJ Archives Online
The Faitlovitch Collection, Sourasky Central Library, Tel Aviv University, Israel
David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries
A Davey
Executive Producer:
— Barry Skolnick
Co-Executive Producer:
— Shmuel Katz

About Explainers: From ancient Jewish traditions to the modern State of Israel, we explain it all. Diving into anything and everything related to Jewish culture, history, and even religion.
Understand Jewish holidays, Israeli politics, Jewish diasporic communities, and more. Learn about Judaism in pop culture, debunking myths about Jews, and explore obscure Israeli landmarks. We’re asking questions as basic as “What is the Talmud?”, and as obscure as “How did hip-hop boost Kosher wine sales?”, and everything in between.

About Unpacked: We provide nuanced insights by unpacking all things Jewish. People are complex and complicated — yet we’re constantly being pushed to oversimplify our world. At Unpacked we know that being complex makes us more interesting. Because of this, we break the world down with nuance and insight to drive your curiosity and challenge your thinking.

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