Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Falashas: Falash Mura, Ethiopian Jewry


(fälä`shəs) [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 MidrashMidrash
[Heb.,=to examine, to investigate], verse by verse interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures, consisting of homily and exegesis, by Jewish teachers since about 400 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and TalmudTalmud
[Aramaic from Heb.,=learning], in Judaism, vast compilation of the Oral Law with rabbinical elucidations, elaborations, and commentaries, in contradistinction to the Scriptures or Written Laws. The Talmud is the accepted authority for Orthodox Jews everywhere.
..... Click the link for more information.
. They claim descent from those who migrated from Jerusalem with Menelik I (see Early History under EthiopiaEthiopia
, officially Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, republic (2015 est. pop. 99,873,000), 471,776 sq mi (1,221,900 sq km), NE Africa. It borders on Eritrea in the north, on Djibouti in the northeast, on Somalia in the east and southeast, on Kenya in the south, and on
..... Click the link for more information.
), 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
References in periodicals archive ?
The bondage between the Falashas and the Israelites was recognized by the latter.
Black Jews like Arnold Ford, who met with a member of the Ethiopian trade mission around 1919, were impacted, but they were electrified when they also discovered the existence of Ethiopia's "Black Jews." Polish Jewish adventurer and Zionist Jacques Faitlovich devoted his life to the cause of the Falashas or Beta Israel, establishing the American Pro-Falasha Committee in 1922 and bringing Emmanuel Taamrat, the first Falasha to come to New York, to study in the U.S.
He arranged for the first group of the Beta Israel, the Jews of Ethiopia, the Falashas, to go to Israel in 1955.
Presently, Africa is comprised of over 40 nations and Islands and is the ancestral homes of Blacks, Jews (Falashas), Arabs, Caucasians and Asians.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 2001, I showed up at the gates of the compound of the Beta Israel people (disparagingly known as falashas), the Ethiopian Jews.
(24) Many Ethiopian Jews, also called Falashas, claim descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba,25 but many scholars believe they are descended from a group that converted to Judaism in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries.
With a special focus on Europe and the role played by German, English, and Italian Jewish communities in creating a new Jewish Ethiopian identity, it investigates such issues as the formation of a new Ethiopian Jewish elite and the transformation of the identity from Ethiopian Falashas to the Jews of Ethiopia during the twentieth century.
At a 1984 Sudanese refugee camp sheltering Ethiopians displaced by civil war and famine, Israeli secret service has begun "Operation Moses," airlifting thousands of Falashas, or Ethiopian Jews, to Israel.
His topic was the Falashas, an Ethiopian group of Jews who had been airlifted to Israel from the Sudan.