14,000+ Jews rescued.
By the spring of 1991, Ethiopia had been in a decades-long civil war. Rebel forces were closing in on Addis Ababa, allowing a narrow window for Ethiopian Jews to emigrate to Israel.
On May 24, Operation Solomon was set — a dramatic and daring airlift with no guarantee of success. JDC worked for months with the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency, and the American Jewish community to ensure the plan would be executed seamlessly.
JDC helped to negotiate and plan the rescue, which came on the heels of comprehensive health and welfare programs we had been operating for the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who gathered in Addis Ababa.
With the operation planned in secret, a unique “silent call system” was mobilized to gather Ethiopia’s Jews. In cooperation with the Israeli embassy, JDC provided food and fuel, coordinated transportation to the planes, and more. That weekend, 34 Israeli planes made 40 continuous flights, and just over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were brought to safety in Israel — the largest humanitarian airlift to ever have taken place.
In the end, what was designed to take 48 hours was completed in just 36 — making Operation Solomon a modern miracle.
And we don’t stop there. We’ve stayed committed to the thousands we rescued before, during, and since the 1991 airlift, launching and refining innovative, impactful programs to help support Ethiopian-Israelis in their new lives. These efforts to help new immigrants to Israel are part of our historic work, in partnership with the government, to develop solutions to the country’s most complex social challenges so all of its citizens have the opportunity to thrive.
Since 1914, working with our partners, JDC has rescued over 1 million Jews in danger — in places like Georgia, Ukraine, and Sarajevo.