The last of the Jewish Yemenite immigrants arrive in Israel. (Arielle Di-Porto/Jewish Agency) (Arielle Di-Porto/Jewish Agency)
Yemenite immigrants

Natan Sharansky

Head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky. (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

Some 200 Jews have been secretly rescued from Yemen by the Jewish Agency in recent years, including several dozen in recent months, as attacks against the Jewish community have increased and the country has descended into civil war.

A long chapter in the history of modern Israel came to a conclusion Sunday night when the final group of Yemenite Jewish immigrants landed in Israel in what was a complex covert operation to extract them from war-torn Yemen, coordinated by the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Some 200 Jews have been secretly rescued from Yemen by the Jewish Agency in recent years, including several dozen in recent months, as attacks against the Jewish community have increased and the country has descended into civil war.

“This is a highly significant moment in the history of Israel and of Aliyah,” Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, himself an immigrant from the USSR, stated. “From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, the Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close. This chapter in the history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry’s unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel.”

A total of 19 Jews arrived in Israel in recent days, including 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sana’a.

The group from Raydah included the community’s rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old. The father of the husband from Sana’a was Aharon Zindani, who was murdered in an anti-Semitic attack in 2012. The Jewish Agency arranged for Zindani’s remains to be brought to Israel for burial and also coordinated the immigration of his wife and children at the time.

Yemenite immigrants

The ancient Torah scroll brought with the last of the immigrants. (Arielle Di-Porto/Jewish Agency)

More than 51,000 Yemenite Jews have immigrated to Israel since the country’s establishment in 1948. The majority of the community – nearly 50,000 individuals in total – was brought to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 and 1950. Today, hundreds of thousands of Jews of Yemeni origin live in Israel, and many have had a profound impact on Israeli society including famous singers, an Olympic athlete and medallist, former Knesset Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu and and rabbis of note.

Attacks against Jews in Yemen have sharply increased since 2008, when Jewish teacher Moshe Ya’ish Nahari was murdered in Raydah. In 2012, Aharon Zindani was murdered in Sana’a and a young Jewish woman was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and forcibly wed to a Muslim.

As Yemen has descended into civil war and the humanitarian situation in the country has worsened, the Jewish community has found itself increasingly imperiled. As a result, The Jewish Agency has undertaken numerous covert operations to spirit Jews out of Yemen and bring them to Israel, rescuing some two hundred in recent years.

Some 50 Jews remain in Yemen, including approximately 40 in San’aa, where they live in a closed compound adjacent to the US embassy and enjoy the protection of Yemeni authorities. They have chosen to remain in the country without Jewish communal or organizational infrastructure.

“The Jewish Agency will continue to assist any Jew who wishes to make Israel his or her home,” it said in a statement.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

shutterstock_196518893

Subscribe to Our FREE Newsletter for More Great Stories Like This One

United with Israel publishes stories like this every day. We believe that our work allows a more balanced view of Israel to emerge. With so much anti-Israel media bias out there from outlets like CNN and the BBC, helping the Holy Land means getting our message out to as many people as possible.

You can help.

Subscribe to our free newsletter to ensure that you get the latest and best stories from United with Israel. Together we can make a difference, and it starts with communication.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER