A plane carrying 119 new immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday, the annual memorial day for Ethiopian Jews who died en route to Israel.
The immigrants were greeted by the new Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, who is herself Ethiopian-born, and Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog.
Both masked due to the virus, Tamano-Shata and Herzog stood at the entrance of the plane, handing roses to the new arrivals.
President Reuven Rivlin delivered remarks at the official memorial ceremony held at Har Herzl. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Yariv Levin, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata, Supreme Court Justice David Mintz and representatives of the bereaved families also participated.
In his remarks, the president said, “Beta Israel left a country they knew, land, property, and embarked on an exhausting exodus holding only the yearning that had been passed down the generations: Yerusalem, Jerusalem. Those who came up to Yerushalayim did not bring only their longing for Zion, but also the heavy price of longing for Zion.”
“Not everyone came home to Yerushalayim,” said the president. “Fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, grandchildren and grandparents, did not survive the journey. They could not survive the exhausting trek, the robbers along the way, the hunger, the diseases, the terrible conditions in the transit camps. We hold their memory in our hearts forever. Yerushalayim holds their memory in its heart forever. Your love of Yerushalayim is an eternal torch, whose top touches the heavens. A pillar of fire that shows all Israelis the way. May the memories of those who lost their lives on the way to Yerushalayim and Israel, our brothers and sisters, be forever in our hearts.”