GONDAR - Walelah Alemo last saw her granddaughter four years ago. She knows the child now has an Israeli name, but she doesn't know what it is. Alemo also doesn't know where in Israel her son lives with his family, or what he does for a living, but says she just wants to join him and her brother and sisters who also live in Israel.This makes no sense. This "connection to Judaism" business is nonsense. Israel's racist laws have never been based on belief but "ethnicity". If the ethnicity principle is followed, if some siblings in a family are allowed into Israel then all should be. It appears that Israel is applying the "good human material" principle in the case of these Ethiopians. Contrast that with the influx of people from the former Soviet Union.
Alemo is a widow raising five more unmarried children. For the past five years, the Alemo family has lived in uncertainty in this northern Ethiopian city, where they came hoping to immigrate to Israel on a permit for Falashmura. But now, two months before Israel plans to stop the Falashmura immigration, the family's chances seem smaller than ever, along with another 12,000 Falashmura waiting in Gondar. Many say they don't understand why they are not being allowed to move to Israel. They seem to have made peace with their situation, although they believe they will eventually get to Israel.
The money from selling Alemo's home in her village - which she left because she was sure she was about to move to Israel - ran out a long time ago and now she scrapes by doing odd jobs. Unlike other Falashmura families, her relatives in Israel don't send her money. Only when she speaks of the dream of aliya does she smile and her face lights up.
"God promised us we would live in Israel," she says, "now is the time to join our relatives there." It seems Alemo is not too worried by the stop in immigration. "I am sure the proper time will arrive," she reiterates.
Alemo said she doesn't know why she hasn't received an aliyah permit yet, in contrast to her brothers and sisters. She doesn't think the fact she had no connection to Judaism before she came to the Falashmura compound in Gondar should interfere.
Imagine if this were a synagogue
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