As 2020 draws to a close in the United States, we can look forward to better times with vaccines for COVID-19 and a president that will return the country to normalcy. Unfortunately, for the Jews living in Ethiopia, the future remains bleak. While Israel has agreed to allow 2,000 of the 8,000 Jews waiting in Gondor and Addis Ababa to immigrate to Israel, 6,000 remain, and their families in Israel have no idea when or if they will be allowed to join them.
In addition, 150,000 members of the ancestral Jewish Beta Israel community of N. Shewa Ethiopia struggle for their Jewish identity. Discriminated by their Christian neighbors, they suffer from the calamity of ancient superstitions of being called budas, sorcerers who eat the flesh of living people at night and turn into hyenas to kill their neighbors’ cattle during the day. 2020 has brought a locust infestation to N. Shewa resulting in famine.
Israel is supplying food packages to the elderly. The COVID pandemic has not spared this community, as they make and distribute face masks, thermometers and hand sanitizer to remote parts of the region. Now a civil war in neighboring Tigray province has resulted in 600 people being murdered in a genocide last week. The world remains silent and the fear that the genocide could spread to other areas of the country remains.