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alasha, also spelled Felasha, an Ethiopian of Jewish faith. The Falasha call themselves House of Israel (Beta Israel) and claim descent from Menilek I, traditionally the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makeda) and King Solomon. Their ancestors, however, were probably local Agew peoples in Ethiopia who were converted by Jews living in southern Arabia in the centuries before and after the start of the Christian Era. The Falasha remained faithful to Judaism after the conversion of the powerful Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum to Christianity in the 4th century ad, and thereafter the Falasha were persecuted and forced to retreat. Emmy award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici (James, Brother of Jesus) reveals the plight of Ethiopia's Jewish community and explores the politics that led to their amazing modern day exodus. Known as Falasha or "strangers," Ethiopian Jews lived in isolation for centuries, practicing an ancient, Pre-Talmudic form of Judaism, which according to tradition, traces its origins back to Solomon and Sheba. In the seventeenth century, this prosperous civilization was overpowered by neighboring tribes. Years of persecution and discrimination followed. The 1980s saw conditions worsen, as famine and a new wave of violence threatened the remaining Falasha. Operation Moses was organized in response, transporting thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel by means of secret airlifts from Sudan.

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