Operation Moses – 30 Years After

EXTENDED DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND! On the 7th of March 2019, the SA Jewish Museum in collaboration with the SA Zionist Federation & Beit Hatfutsot, opened a new exhibition, Operation Moses.

Operation Moses was the code name for the secret airlift that brought around 7,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1984-1985. The code name was chosen because this modern-day exodus evoked Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

Thirty years after Operation Moses, Beit Hatfutsot, in partnership with young Ethiopian-Israeli leaders, invited Ethiopian Jews to re-examine its unique treasure trove of 10,000 photographs chronicling the experiences of the Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel.

The response was overwhelming. A Facebook page showcasing the photos enabled many Ethiopian Jews to view themselves and their families as they embarked upon their epic journey to become Israeli. For many, these were the earliest photos they had seen of themselves and served as a memorial to their loved ones who died on the way to Israel.

Many of those photographed during Operation Moses were eager to share their memories of Ethiopia and to speak about their lives in Israel. From a series of interviews, filmmaker Orly Malessa, who herself came to Israel as part of Operation Moses, created ten beautiful and poignant films: Ethiopian

Jews tell their own stories of flourishing in Israel, establishing new homes, seizing new opportunities and discovering a deep sense of belonging. But we also hear about disruption and loss, racism and alienation, as for some Ethiopian Jews, life in Israel has brought tragedy and despair.

The stories captured in these films are diverse, inspiring and sometimes somber. Each story embodies a small world of its own. These films, combined with the exhibition’s powerful photographs, innovative design and compelling text, will move anyone interested in Jewish and Israeli history and the immigrant experience. The exhibition thus offers an intimate portrayal of individuals and their enormous contribution to Israel as well as a universal story of immigration.

This ground-breaking exhibition depicts The Museum of the Jewish People’s dedication to telling the Jewish story both past and present. We believe that this unique exhibition is a vital part of that story.