Israel is no stranger to immigrants from the four corners of the globe, but on Tuesday night a unique story of family reunion emerged – as the last Jews of South Sudan arrived in Israel.
Suzy Makuriel and her three children ended up in the region 30 years ago as they made their way on foot from Ethiopia to Israel. She had accompanied her mother, who was able to make it back to Ethiopia, from where she was later taken to Israel when regular flights began taking place. But two of her daughters were kidnapped and forced to remain in Sudan.
The exit of the family was arranged by Aharon Tzuf, a resident of the community of Esh Kodesh in the Binyamin region. He told Yisrael Hayom that he became aware of the story when members of the family who been brought to Israel were living in the community. One of the sisters who had been kidnapped were brought to Israel about a year and a half ago, and she told him about their sister who had been kidnapped and was still held hostage their with her children. Tzuf said that he had managed to arrange for them to be brought back to Ethiopia, from where they were transported to Israel.
The authenticity of the family’s Jewish history was confirmed by several officials, and with the assistance of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri the operation to bring the family to Israel was undertaken. The project cost NIS 120,000, most of which was raised from donations. “A year and a half after we started, we reached the end of the road,” Tzuf said. “It was a very emotional reunion and brought tears to the eyes of everyone who was present.”