Israel just airlifted in 180 Ethiopian Jews. Meet the Canadians who helped make it happen

Ethiopian Jews pray in the synagogue in Gondar, Ethiopia, before making aliyah as part of Operation Tzur Israel. (Photo by Candace Kwinter)

On Wednesday, a plane carrying 180 eager Ethiopian Jews arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. For many, their immigration to the Holy Land has been a long time coming—some have been waiting decades to join their families, who already made aliyah.

The flight is part of Operation Tzur Israel, and marks a restart for the long-running operations that have already brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews into Israel since the 1980s. Those missions stopped over a year ago—partly because of COVID, and partly because of court challenges by domestic right-wing groups that questioned the legitimacy of the Africans’ law of return.

Nonetheless, the planes are flying again, and Israel is once again accepting Jews in need. And because North American Jewish Federations contribute to the payment the these operations, a handful of Canadian Jewish leaders flew to Ethiopia this week to bear witness to the migration and meet the people whose lives they helped change. On today’s episode, you’ll hear from Ariella Rohringer and Sara Gottlieb of Toronto, who work with Federation and the United Israel Appeal; Candace Kwinter, chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver; and Bruce Leboff, who was waiting at Ben Gurion airport to greet the newcomers.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.