Letter from Ovadia Yosef, Rishon Le Zion Chief Rabbi of Israel
I was an eyewitness when Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef presented his letter (enclosed) to the Jewish people, to all sons of Israel, to help the Ethiopian Jews who are true Jews from the tribe of Dan make Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael.
My husband, Emanuel A. Winston, z’l, and I came to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Manny went to the Sinai campaign as a photographer and writer. Then he went up to the Golan to cover that campaign with his cameras and pen. I hope to post on our Website his remarkable color photographs and written description of the battlefields and the young soldiers who won these two outstanding victories by our IDF – and their terrible losses.
While Manny was on the Golan, November 7th, then Quartermaster Corps Head, Chezi Ovadia took me to see Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, z’l. Rabbi Yosef gave this remarkable historical document to Chezi and me for Bernard Alpert of the Committee for Ethiopian Jews. Bernie and his wife, Fran, were then using audio-visual methods to describe the very difficult lives of our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.
Of course, Rabbi Yosef’s letter was in Hebrew. We went back to our hotel and translated it as best we could. Here it is in English.
This was the letter that declared that the Ethiopian Jews were true Jews and all those who help bring them freedom shall be blessed by all blessings from the Torah. Many articles this week, honoring Rabbi Yosef in this, the week of his leaving us, have mentioned his approval of the Beta Yisrael as true Jews. I wanted to share this piece of history to show how the Rabbi did it.
Letter from Ovadia Yosef, Rishon Le Zion Chief Rabbi of Israel 12th Heshvon/5734 November 7, 1973.
Ovadia Yossef Rishon Le Zion Chief of Israel Jerusalem
- The Honorable Mr. Bernard Alpert Committee for Ethiopian Jews Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
I am turning through you to all the communities of our brothers, sons of Israel all over the Diaspora to Come and help as much as they can for our brothers, the Falesheem as was written in the books of the Law-Givers that they are Jews from the Tribe of Dan — to come out from Ethiopia and make Aliyah to eretz Israel and to be unified with the other Israeli tribes in order to be able to live a Jewish life according to our holy Torah.
Be blessed all who are undertaking this holy work to bring freedom to prisoners, to call out those who are captives, and to save those who are in darkness.
They shall be blessed by all blessings from the Torah.
Long life, and all good things.
With the blessing of the Torah
/s/ Ovadia Yossef