In a secret mission coordinated by the Jewish Agency for Israel, a group of the last remaining Jews in Yemen arrived to their new home—Israel.
In a statement issued by the Jewish Agency on March 21, the 19 Jews who arrived on March 20 included 14 from Raydah, including the community’s rabbi, and a family of five from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. In addition, the rabbi brought with him a 500-to-600-year-old Torah scroll.
The Sanaa family included the son of Aharon Zindani, who was killed in an anti-Semitic attack in 2012. Zindani’s wife and several of their children made aliyah not long after the attack, and Zindani’s body was brought to Israel to be buried.
The Jewish Agency has brought approximately 200 Jews to Israel in secret from Yemen in recent years, including several dozen in recent months, as attacks against the Yemenite Jewish community have increased and Yemen has become embroiled in a civil war.
“This is a highly significant moment in the history of Israel and of aliyah,” Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, said in a statement. “From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, The Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close.
“This chapter in the history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry’s unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel.”
More than 51,000 Yemenite Jews have been brought to Israel since Israel was established in 1948. The majority of the Yemenite Jewish community—almost 50,000 people—was brought to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 and 1950.
Since 2008, when Jewish teacher Moshe Yaish Nahari was murdered in Raydah, attacks against Yemenite Jews have risen. In 2012, Zindani was murdered in Sanaa and a young Jewish woman was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and forcibly wed to a Muslim man.
Around 50 Jews remain in Yemen by choice, including approximately 40 in Sanaa, where they live in a closed compound near the U.S. Embassy and are currently under the protection of the Yemenite authorities.
“The Jewish Agency will continue to assist any Jew who wishes to make Israel his or her home,” the statement concluded.