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Beta Israel / Falasha

The Beta Israel (Hebrew ביתא ישראל‎, 'House of Israel') are the Jews of Ethiopia. They are also known as Falasha (Amharic for "Exiles" or "Strangers", a Semitic language spoken in North Central Ethiopia) by non-Jewish Ethiopians, but this term is considered pejorative.

The Ethiopian Jews trace their roots back to the Queen of Sheba who had a relationship with King Solomon (1 Kings 10:13). They are the descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity in earlier centuries. Some are returning to their Jewish roots, living in Falash Mura communities and observing Halakha.

Israel's Law of Return (1950) allows Jews and those with Jewish parents or grandparents, to settle in Israel and gain citizenship. Under its provisions, more than 120,000 people, nearly 85% of the Ethiopian Jewish community, have emigrated to Israel, most notably during Operation Moses (1984) and Operation Solomon (1991). The Israeli government mounted rescue operations for migration when civil war and famine threatened populations within Ethiopia. Some immigration has continued up until the present day.