Last year, Naama was volunteering in Ethiopia at the Jewish community there, when she met Sinatio. Sinatio was passionate about studying the Bible, and could quote Bible verses and knew the text better than anyone she knew. She was inspired, and got him an application to the International Bible Quiz, held every year in Israel for Jews from all over the world. Sinatio was accepted, and for the first time in his life, he boarded the plane from Ethiopia to Israel, fulfilling a 2,000 year old dream. Not only did he make it to Israel, but he won second place in the competition and had been living in Israel ever since.
The Heart of Israel has been working with the Jewish community in Ethiopia for years, and has been trying to petition the Israeli government to bring the remaining 8,000 Jews in Ethiopia home to Israel. When Sinatio made it to Israel for the Bible Quiz, they realized it was a great opportunity to publicize the plight of the Jews of Ethiopia. The Heart of Israel went to Addis Ababa where they photographed and filmed Sinatio’s family in the impoverished conditions and their meager mud hut in which they lived.
Sinatio’s story touched the hearts of people from all over the world. The Israeli government agreed to bring Sinatio’s family to Israel, but would not commit to any amount of funding for them. The Heart of Israel sprang into action, and with your help, managed to raise enough money to secure their passports, pay for their flights, as well as have leftover money for the family to get started here in Israel. They will be living on a kibbutz south of Jerusalem called Beit Yisrael. The members of the kibbutz have committed to “adopting” the family, welcoming them, and helping them integrate into Israeli society.
On Tuesday November 6, 2018, after 2,000 years of praying to come home, Sinatio’s mother Alem boarded the plane with Bezabeh (20), Meskerem (16), Zemna (23), and Dawit (2.5). Meskerem will join an Israeli high school, and afterwards will go on to National Service or Army Service. Little Dawit will not remember the mud hut where he was born, he will not remember the hunger, poverty, and longing to return to the Holy Land.
The arrival of Sinatio’s family coincides with the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd. In Ethiopia for 2,000 years, every year on the 30th of the Jewish month of Cheshvan, 50 days after Yom Kippur, the community would dress in white and climb to the top of the highest mountain, carrying Torah scrolls. The priests wore their special garb, and led prayers about Jerusalem, begging the Almighty to bring them home to Jerusalem. Today, the holiday is still observed by the Ethiopian Jews who are living in Israel. The priests still wear their special clothes, and they recite their traditional prayers in Amharic. After 2,000 years of celebrating Sigd in Ethiopia asking God to bring them home, they – along with Sinatio’s family – can now celebrate that they are finally home.
Thank you to all who have taken part in making this prophecy come true. There is still a chance for you to help by donating here and becoming a partner in bringing home more Jewish families from Ethiopia to Israel.