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Falashas (fäläˈshəs) [Amharic,=exiles], Jews of Ethiopia who refer to themselves as Beta Israel (House of Israel). Long isolated from mainstream Judaism, they practice a form of the religion based on the Jewish Scriptures and certain apocryphal books; they also adhere to certain traditions that correspond to some of those found in the Midrash and Talmud. They claim descent from those who migrated from Jerusalem with Menelik I (see Early History under Ethiopia), but scholars believe they adopted Judaism from Jews who migrated from S Arabia or from those living in Egypt. Pagan and Christian influences have affected their Judaism. In modern times there were pogroms against the Falashas, and some, known as the Falash Mura, converted to Christianity, often without actually becoming practicing Christians. In 1975 the Israeli rabbinate recognized the Falashas legally as Jews.

During the Ethiopian civil war, about 10,000 Falashas from the Gondar region of Ethiopia were airlifted (Sept., 1984–Mar., 1985) to Israel. A second airlift of more than 14,000 occurred in May, 1991. Ethiopia subsequently agreed to permit Israel to evacuate those still remaining, and by 1999 the last remaining practicing Jews, from the Quara area of Ethiopia, were flown to Israel, bringing the total there to over 70,000. About 26,000 members of the Falash Mura seeking to immigrate to Israel remained. Questions by Israeli officials concerning their faith and sincerity resulted in the slow processing of their immigration requests. Roughly a third of the group ultimately immigrated before the Israel immigration program ended in Aug., 2008. In Jan., 2010, however, Israel resumed the immigration program, and eventually decided to allow several thousand to immigrate in stages over the next several years; the program ended in 2013. In all, about 90,000 Ethiopian Jews immigrated through 2013; several thousand Falash Mura who had sought to immigrate remained in Ethiopia. In 2015, the conditional immigration of the remaining Falash Mura was approved, but subsequent progress on the issue was slow. In Israel, there have been conflicts with the Orthodox Israeli rabbinate over some of the practices and traditions the Falasha that diverge from Orthodox Judaism.


See W. Leslau, ed., Falasha Anthology (1951, repr. 1969); D. Kessler, The Falashas (1985).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Quirin and Kaplan both demonstrate that the 'Falasha' did not become a stigmatized group, much less a quasi-caste, until they had been stripped of their rights to rist land in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries--and, even then, it took hundreds of years for a fully stigmatized identity to coalesce.
"In this context, 'Falasha' is not derogatory, although it can be," Zeleke explained.
To the head of state Reuven Rivlin, a delegation Falasha, mostly college students, told yesterday "the daily discrimination" that Ethiopian Jews are experiencing as victims in Israel and strongly denounced the attack on a soldier of Ethiopian origin - images have made the rounds of the network - severely beaten by police.
Her work as an ethnographer in Ethiopia during the overthrow of Hailie Selassie and her publications in Falasha history have inspired panel topics as well as her work on the importance of history in ethnomusicology, her deep interests in collaborative ethnography, music and memory, and the interrelationship between the cognitive and the musical.
Overlooked in much of the literature, Israeli policy has not only created categories of differently racialized Palestinian citizens, but has also unofficially designated separate tiers of Jewish Israelis to differentiate if not in law then in practice between Ashkenazi (European) Jews, Beta Israel (Ethiopian) or Falasha (literally "immigrant" in Hebrew) Jews, and their Mizrahi (Arab) Jewish counterparts (Abdo 2011; Chehata 2012; Kanaaneh 2009; see also Yuval-Davis 1987:42-44).
The 'Prince' claimed to be a chief of the Falasha tribe of Abyssinia, but in fact he was born in 1881 in what are now the Virgin Islands.
The Beta Israel of Ethiopia, pejoratively labeled the Falasha (the name means "stranger"), gave life to their Judaism by building synagogues, learning Torah and practicing relatively strict forms of Jewish worship.
The Falasha, or Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopia's 'black Jews', live in the Simien mountains although the majority have resettled in Israel.
When she first arrives in London, she feels like a "Falasha: an exile, a landless one, treading on alien soil, tiptoeing so as not to leave footprints" (236).
To really get a better sense of the predicament of the Arab world, at this moment of history, one need only meditate the edifying contrast between the attitude of Israel toward its Falasha and those of the monarchies of the Gulf for instance toward their starving fellow neighboring brethren in next door Somalia.
Among such evidence is the decision announced by Tel Aviv this month to assimilate new waves of Ethiopian Jews (Falasha), reaching up to eight thousand people over the next four years, under the pretext of saving them from a deteriorating humanitarian situation at home - this after Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had chosen Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda (countries of the Nile basin) as stops in his trip to Africa last September, a trip which especially involved proposing water projects.