This summer, millions of Americans learned of the story of the long lost Jews of Ethiopia and their return to Israel. Netflix’s ‘Red Sea Diving Resort’ depicted their covert evacuation from Sudan by the Mossad in 1984-1985, known as Operation Moses.
Many were airlifted out over the years, but some were left behind in South Sudan.
35 years later, Aaron Katsof, who hails from the little town of Esh Kodesh near the historic city of Shiloh in Binyamin (Samaria) aka the northern part of the “West Bank”, initiated what could be the final chapter in this saga.
Operation Moses brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel via Sudan. About 4,000 died on the way, and another 88 went missing. One of the missing people, a 14-year-old girl named Tuwavich Berko ended up in a Sudanese prison. She was sold into a forced marriage, and when her two eldest daughters reached the age of 12, they were married off to older men of the local tribe.
Three years ago, Aaron bumped into Berko on one of his missions in Ethiopia, and when he heard the story and understood that there was no one in the world who would help them, he swore to do everything he could to rescue the girls.
The mother and one of her daughters arrived in Israel in April, and lived with Katsof ‘s family. Suzy, who had returned to South Sudan to bring her children, was left behind.
After months of traveling through South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, 18-hour-long bus rides, private planes, embassies and ambassadors, malaria, and endless amount of bureaucracy, the second and last sister, 22-year-old Suzy Makurriel finally landed last night in Ben-Gurion Airport and re-united with the rest of her family.
Here is Aaron in his vineyard near Esh Kodesh and also a profile of Esh Kodesh the community.