Hundreds of the Ethiopian community citizen, guests and veteran participated last month in an exceptional cultural event, to commemorate 20 years to “Operation Solomon”, which brought thousands of Ethiopian immigrants in the middle of the night to Israel. Micha Feldman, who conducted the operation on behalf of the Jewish Agency, spellbound the participants with stories behind the scenes of the operation, which involved detailed secret office work of all security branches, politicians, diplomats, aliyah activists and immigrants, who risked their lives in order to save Ethiopian Jews. Feldman fluently described the dramas behind the operation and told amusing anecdotes, as things appear in retrospect, about the operation, which was characterized as a national move, ripened at a rare opportunity, as result of the changes in Ethiopia’s foreign policy.
The mayor, Yechiel Zohar, congratulated the heads of the Ethiopian community, the religious leaders and the young leadership, while praising their integration into the community and great contribution to strengthen the community in Netivot in all life areas. Zohar emphasized that it was a trial for the Israeli society to accept immigrants arriving from a different culture, a different country and a different mentality and Netivot withstood this trial successfully, thanks to good absorption of the immigrants and the citizen’ assistance in their integration. “Currently, there is a young generation growing in the Ethiopian community, entirely the product of the Israeli education system, and this generation proves to everybody that it can reach achievements, when many youngsters are integrated in all society and state’s areas, as army and security forces’ officers, as academicians, as people of culture and as public activists dealing with building this country”, said Zohar.
Those arriving to the event viewed an incredible exhibition, including a list of Zion prisoners amongst the Ethiopian community. An exhibition of traditional musical instruments and food according to the best Ethiopian folklore. Many of the community members arrived in traditional garments, which gave the event a most special character. The religious leaders blessed the audience and gave prayers. Alfontine band played pleasant music, and rendered this special evening more delightful. It was a reminder of the dramatic days of Operation Solomon, said one of the participants. David Gavro, producer and creator, produced a special film for the evening, featuring the immigrants during the first days in Israel and especially in Netivot. The citizen of Netivot welcomed them warmly.
The municipality praised the contribution of the Jewish Federation in Philadelphia, which is closely following the Ethiopian community and assists in its integration an incorporation in the city, as well as the contribution of the Aliyah absorption office and the Jewish Agency to the success of the event. It also mentioned the many activists who worked for days to bring to the public conscious this special operation, bringing about 14,000 Jews from Ethiopia. The evening was tastefully hosted by Itzhak Tesma, an army officer and Engineer academician, community activist, who is a role model for many community youngsters.