Ethiopian Jews Complain of Missionary Activity by Falash Mura

Ethiopian Jewish leaders have told me for years that many missionaries were coming to Israel with the Falash Mura and were now actively trying to convert Ethiopian Jews in Israel. The story has finally made the papers in Israel:

Spiritual leaders of the nation’s poor, culture-shocked and embattled Ethiopian community opened another front of divisiveness Wednesday, calling to excommunicate members of their community who engage in Christian missionary activity.

The Jewish Ethiopian community plans to compose a blacklist of known missionaries who will be ostracized.

“We know who they are,” said Itzhak Zagai, Chief Rabbi of Rehovot’s Ethiopian community. “The worst punishment imaginable for an Ethiopian is excommunication, because we are all so interdependent.”

Ethiopians who appear on the list will be unable to marry inside the community.…

But what more should be done? Should we deny entry to all Falash Mura because of a few missionaries? Ethiopian Jewish leaders often say we should do just that. The Rabbinute says the opposite, based on a series of halakhic rulings. And the state? The state would just as soon left all Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia. Without outside pressure and some strong intervention from President Regan, that is exactly what would have happened.

Here’s where I come down on this: Bring in all the Falash Mura now. At the same time, begin intensive anti-missionary campaigns in the Ethiopian community. Helping Ethiopian Jews fit in, find work and become Israeli is extremely important. Missionaries feed on poverty and alienation, the two things Israel’s failed absorption policy ensures. Chabad’s shameful treatment of Ethiopian Jews, along with haredi racism, doesn’t help things, either.


Filed under Chabad and Ethiopian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Israel, Religion

14 responses to “Ethiopian Jews Complain of Missionary Activity by Falash Mura

  1. Anonymous

    liar Liar Liars!
    This is Your stupid Ashkenazi Propaganda! First you humiliated and deteriorated the lives of Ethiopian jews that are truely Jews. And now you praise the ones that expose missionaries among the Aliyot, so that the immigration of the Jews that are left stranded in Addis will not make Aliyah.
    Shame! I hate this stupid site!

  2. I had the story for years and did not publish it. Why? Because I didn’t want to hurt Falash Mura aliya. Read the post again.

  3. Missionary activity has been going on like this by Christian groups backed by US evangelical churches for years. There was a scandal some years ago with evangelicals luring in Russian and Ethiopian immigrants with food and money in exchange for their souls. A Russian friend of a friend of mine got caught up in one of these “Messianic” churches. It was so sad because he really believed he coudl be Jewish and believe in Jesus. WHen I informed him otherwise there was a look of shock, disbelief and hurt. He was one of the biggest Zionists, too. He was not just one of these Russians who was in Israel simply to get out of Russia. He really believed in Israel and the Zionist cause. It’s just that he knew nothing about Judaism and didn’t know when he was being played.

    Missionary acivity (especially to Jews) is AGAINST ISRAELI LAW and the missionaries should be thrown out of the country and stripped of citizenship if they have it.

    Even better would be to strengthen Jewish identity in the State of Israel as a whole, which INMO means getting rid of the Orthodox hegemony in Israel and allowing the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements to be more active.

  4. Treifalicious –

    But we know that’s not going to happen, although it should. In reality, the best thing for Judaism would be a separation of synagogue and state (but with a strong school voucher program, etc.).

  5. avrohom

    This is what Reb Moshe was concerned, aliya by non jews will cause intermarriage and missionary which amongst yidden is AVODA ZARA which is not superceded by pikuach nefesh.

    you hate anything related to jewsih observance to the extent that you criticize those of ethiopians who are for observance. you do not care for torah for judaism for ethiopians even; you pathetic liar; all you care is to find sometyhing to complain at observant jews. your life is completely empty.

    How pityful that you got hooked with chanbad once upon a time; how much better itwould be for everyone you would have stayed as you were befroe and never discovered anything relating to yiddishkeyt’ maybe you would stick to animals etc.

  6. Avrohom –

    This is what Reb Moshe was concerned, aliya by non jews will cause intermarriage and missionary which amongst yidden is AVODA ZARA which is not superceded by pikuach nefesh.”

    Wrong on several counts.

    1. Intermarriage is not Avoda Zara.

    2. Christian missionary activity between Ethiopian Jews (which is what we’re talking about here) certainly isn’t Avoda Zara if you hold they’re non-Jews, which YOU do.

    3. This same missionary activity was stronger and more intense IN ETHIOPIA. It was the reason the Hidesheimer lobbied and advocated for rescue along with dozens of other great rabbonim of his day. It is also one of the reasons Rav Moshe pushed for rescue. If we had followed YOUR advice, many more EJs would be Christian today.

    4. Rav Moshe made clear in his tshuva and in other communications that it was mandatory to mekarev Ethiopian Jews and to teach them, give them tefillin, etc. Chabad’s Rebbe referred the question to Rav Moshe and whose chief rabbi/av beit din Rav Dworkin, z”l, clearly stated that “in matters like this, we hold by Rav Moshe. I have his teshuva [the one I just printed – Shmraya] and we hold by it.” He then gave me and an Ethiopian Jewish leader brachot and ENCOURAGED US TO SAVE THEM. But the Rebbe refused to follow the pesak din of wither Rav Moshe OR OF HIS OWN POSEK.

    I don’t know which Chabad yeshiva you learn(ed) in, but go back and ask your Rosh Yeshiva about the halakhic issues AND THE DIFFERING DEOT on them. You’ll be surprised.

  7. avrohom


    1) Intermarriage: Can be gilluy arayot! and YEHOREG VEAL YAAVOR!

    2) Missionary activity: even if it is done amongst goyim may be avoda zara according to some/many oppinions.

    In addition: Their influence may unfortunately extend amongst yidden.

    3) It is completely not simple that, if a crime (avera) was done elesewhere that i am permitted to do that crime in my premises andunder my jurisdiction.

    I wasn’t giving any “my” advice; just telling the audience not to be fooled that *Reb Msohe* agreed with what you said, when he wrote that they require GIYUR AMITI and he wrote that we should NOT bring them to israel before gerus amiti! If you would follow that adice you would have NO missionaries from the people you imported into erets hakodesh!

    4) Since Rav Dworkinwould agree with Reb Moshe on these matters hewould have agreed completely that you CANNOT BRING THEM TOISRFAEL BEFORE CONVERTING THEM. Mayber he would have agreed with him that you should be mekareved him etc; butonce all the effort was placed into bringing them to israel i am confident that he would agree with Reb Moshe that it is PROHIBITED TO BRING TO ISRAEL UNLESS THEY UNDERGO GIYUR AMITI!

  8. No. You don’t get it. You’re a foolish person. Go and ask real poskim.

  9. Avrohom


    blah blah blah blah you don’t get it start learning alef bais…you have got nothing to do with kitzur shulchan oruch let alone speak and rule about avoda zara giluy arayot and at the same time calling geoyley yisroel in learning and deeds names based on your amhoratzoos…..

  10. Yos

    Anyhoo… where isn’t there Missionary activity? There’s no easy answer other than education.

  11. Get a Life Scotty

    I had the story for years and did not publish it. Why? Because I didn’t want to hurt Falash Mura aliya. Read the post again.

    Scotty, hate to burst your bubble, but you are not important enough to influence Falash Mura aliya policy or anything else in this world. Get a life, even a low life.

  12. Anonymous

    Shmarya, what does Chabad’s treatment of shvartzes have to do with anything?

  13. Magen David Adom

    Shvartze is to you! you anonymous yiddish monkey!
    Any how, who are they trying to convert? the ethiopian immigrants or the Israelis?

  14. magen David Adom

    Why is this such a big deal? You guys are just trying to find a way to accuse these innocent people in every corner.
    European missionary have existed in Eretz yisroel for years, and they are more powerful and well organized. Christian Evangelican and Jehova witnesses live in that state too!
    You did not even address the problems of the Ethiopian citizens that live in Eretz, but critisize the new olim.

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