Rav Nachum Eisenstein: Falash Mura Ethiopians Jews Must Undergo Geirus


rav-nachum-eisensteinChareidi conversion officials clarified Sunday evening that the 7,846 members of the Falash Mura slated to immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia will have to undergo a strict conversion to Yiddishkeit. Those who fail to do so, the officials warned, would not be recognized as Jews and will have trouble marrying in Israel.

Rav Nachum Eisenstein, rov of Maalot Dafnah and chairman of the International Rabbinical Committee on Conversions, who is a close associate of Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, said that the conversion must include the acceptance of a religious lifestyle as a condition for approving the immigrants’ Judaism.

According to Rav Eisenstein, this process is referred to as “strict conversion” but it is similar to regular conversion according to Jewish Law.

No one can rule that the Falah Mura members are Jews according to the Halacha, Rav Eisenstein explained, as hundred and maybe even thousands of years have passed since this was a known fact in the families of origin.

He added that he and fellow rabbonim had many reasons to oppose this immigration, which could cause “many genealogy problems among the people of Israel”, but that they were not objecting because of the issue’s current political aspect.

Other rabbonim, who have been working to bring the Falash Mura to Israel, confirmed that the immigrants would have to undergo “strict conversion.” However, they said they were convinced that the process would be much easier than the conversion of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Rabbi Menachem Waldman, director of the Shvut Am institute and an expert on Ethiopian Jewry, explained to Ynet that many of the community members converted to Christianity starting in the late 19th century for about 50 years. From a halachic point of view a Jew cannot convert, so they are still considered Jewish, but their offspring must not convert for fear that some of them had married Christian women.

According to Waldman, who was sent the Chief Rabbinate to probe the issue in the past, the Falah Mura are direct descendants of Ethiopia’s Jews and so their status must be similar. “I don’t call it conversion but rather ‘a return to Judaism,’ he said, “even if it’s basically the same thing.”

Waldman added that the need to convert would not pose a problem for the Ethiopians, as they come from a religious country and have been holding a halachic lifestyle.

“The Falash Mura members prayed three times a day, maintained the sanctity of their family and lived a Jewish life back there, and when they immigrate to Israel they send their children to study in religious educational institutions,” he said.

According to Waldman, the situation is more complicated among immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as the Halacha forces them to observe mitzvos in order to be recognized as Jews but this is not a lifestyle they are accustomed to.



  1. What I want to know is this: are these rabbis – and above commenter Ben Torah – genealogists, or geneticists, that they can state that the Ethiopian Jews are gentile? Many cannot trace their heritage definitively. But we rely on mesorah. Well, don’t the Falasha have a mesorah stating that they belong to the People of Israel?

  2. To Jorgen von …
    No Rov relies on Mesorah at siddur kidushin time. Documentation is required.
    In 50 years, any Western Jew (claiming to be) will need documenation as a matter of course, because of non-Halacha conversions.
    The difference here, apparently, is that “..they lead a religious life…” according to the quotes here.
    A Marrano who claims Jewish descent, and even religious performances (lighting candles in a hidden basement, having some form of Seder, etc) also needs gerus.

  3. Von Strangel,

    a mesorah that we have not acknowledged as being part of “our”s, and thus unreliable to us. There are other religions who claim they are “the people of israel’…. not relavent to us though

  4. #3: Your ignorance of the Jewish people saddens me

    Aside from the obvious Yemenite Jews and Sefardim who have stronger mesorahs to Judaism than European Jewry and many of whom are ‘Dark’ skinned as opposed to many of the Blond Hair/ blue eyed Jews of Europe

    Historically, Yidden had many wives coming from all nations of the world. Just use Shlomo Hamelech as an example and you will find that like all other kingdoms they married their daughters off to nobility in other countries and vice versa. This includes the Queen of Sheeba (from Ethiopia/ Eritrea) who is mentioned in NACH….

    But you are correct – the REAL jews are the blond hair blue eyed version from German/ Polish/ Hungarian/ White Russian descent

  5. The “Black Hebrew” meshuganas yelling on the streets of Manhattan also claim to have a “mesorah” that they are “the real Jews”.

  6. We Jews are a Semitic nation and the blond/red hair and other than brown eye color comes from our brethren that converted in Europe. What exactly is our mesorah that we are the true Jews? Therefore any claim that these people are any less Jews than ourselves also undermines our position

  7. To Comment 10 Ben Toayvah,

    Once again your persona of hatred of people and for G-d’s Tzelem Elokim has raised its’ ugly head. Your arrogant disgust for anything that differs from you is just as racist as that of a KKK member. Can you ever speak respectfully about anything that is not like you?

  8. Shelly #12:

    These people are goyim according to Gedolei Yisroel zt”l, including Rav Miller zt”l and many many others.

    End of discussion.

  9. DOVY!!!

    How are you? My issue is not whether these people require giyur lechumrah or not. My issue is the lack of sensitivity that people of your ilk display. These people are not your classic case of gerim. They need to be dealt with sensitivity and respect. They com with a history of zera yehudim. They have lived and suffered as Jews Why can’t you show compassion rather than push them off curtly with “These people are goyim”. I wonder if you and Mr Ben Toeyva are mizera Yihudim who are supposed to be rachmonim bnai rachmonim. I tend do doubt your own claiims to being a Yid as you do not display any semblance of character that A Yid should have.

  10. I just wanted to make a quick note to any future reader that the poster using the alias Sheldon has a sordid history of posting anti Torah and anti Talmidei Chachomim comments. Reader beware.

  11. Hello Joe!!! (Is that your alia or name?)

    How are you? I am offended.

    A. Sheldon is my name, not my alias. I have no reason to hide as what I have always posted is EMES.

    B.I have never posted anything that is ANTI TORAH, nor ANTI TALMIDEI CHACHOMIM.
    As such you are a MOTZEY SHEM RAH. You need to ask mechillah.

    C.Why are you so uncomfortable with my posts?
    Do you feel they challenge your normal paradigms? If so then you may expand your horizons nd seek to learn.

    D. If you do feel that I have sad anything that is Anti Torah or Anti Talmidei Chachomim, please show me and tell me. I am all ears and waiting for your comments.

    E. Until you can corroborate your claims, you Joe are a blatant liar!!!!

  12. I just wanted to make a quick note to any future reader that the poster using the alias Joe is a SHAKRON and a Motzey Shem Ra. He claims to speak for Torah and for the Talmidey Chachomim. His claims and raging statements are machinations of a fertile yet sick mind. In fact he may have the IQ of that which constitutes the Halachik status of SHOTEH. If so we should be mispallel to HKB”H that he have Rachmonus and if posible a Refuah Shelaymoh. If on the other hand if he is lucid then a bid that he make himself known to all and stand up and support his claims. Otherwise he should cease his deranged announcements.

    If I agree with what is being said then there is no need for comment.
    Unfortunatly, I respond to some peoples underlying blatant, hateful and disrespectful comments. Many of these comments are filled with prejudice and ignorance. Someone needs to be a voice which either calls the lie to the table or atleast makes people aware of their own ignorance and prejudice.
    Hopefully, I may even expand other peoples’ horizons.

  14. Q: The Rav mentioned that the Ethiopian immigrants are not Jews, and one of the worst mistakes was to bring them in. So we did a little research and found out that the former Sfardi Rav, Rav Yosef said they are Jews. So we went a little further, and went to Rabbi Yitzchok Alster, who brought down in the name of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zichrono livracha, that Reb Moshe said that if there’s any kind of safek at all, that somebody may be a Jew, they must be saved. So we wonder how you will respond to this?

    A: Let me explain something to you. There are certain things yhat you have to know are lomdos, and it depends on ??????. And certain things you know are metzius, and it depends on people who know the metzius – facts. Ethiopians have no connection with our nation at all; not the slightest hava amina. And therefore there is no safek at all and they never were megayer. They never had any Torah among them. They never had any white Jews among them. After all, the Jews are a white people, you have to know. The Ethiopians are a black people. And, therefore, they’re mnothing but a group of gentiles who adopted some our ways. They have no connection to us at all; not the slightest. And this is not a matter of this talmid chochom saying this or that, because they don’t know. But when you know the history of the Ethiopians, then you know the Ethiopians have no valid tradition at all. And this is by historians. It is only lately that the New York Times came out for the “Ethiopian Jews”. The New York Times gave them semicha as Jews. But up until recently, all the historians knew they were not Jews. They were just blacks who adopted some Jewish customs. And, therefore, there isn’t the slightest doubt about the question. Now how great is the error? Maybe they did bigger errors in the State of Israel. It’s quite possible. But they’re bringing in blacks who refuse to be megayer. Now, if they’re such sincere people, let them at least go through the geirus. If they lived so long without the Torah, let them be megayer. No, they refuse to be megayer. Now if they stay the way they are and increase and multiply – they’re going into the government and school – the government schools will now have black atheists, black criminals, and you’ll have black ghettos and the black problem of Israel. Do they need this on top of all the tzoros they have? So it shouldn’t be any question in your mind. As far as I’m concerned, there’s not the slightest hava amina that the blacks are Jews. (From Rav Avigdor Miller Tape #844)