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Torah scrolls rescued from fundamentalist Christian group

Israel devotes a fair share of it's resources and time to helping impoverished Ethiopian Jews make aliyah, or immigrate to Israel. When the aliyah center in Addis Ababa was closed and taken over by Christians, including the notorious Jews for Jesus, the Jewish Agency managed to rescue the remaining two Torah scrolls and return them to Ethiopian Jews in time for Sukkot.

Jews for Jesus is a Christian group which targets Jews for conversion. Despite the name the vast majority of 'Jews' for Jesus are in fact Protestant Christians, not real Jews (by halacha none of them are Jews since they converted to Christianity). The organization is funded by affiliated Protestant churches in the Southern United States. It receives more money to target Jews for conversion than any other missionary group in the world.

Had the Torah scrolls fallen into the hands of such an extreme Christian group they would have almost certainly been defiled. YNet, Ethiopia: Torah scrolls taken to Israel:
Two torah scrolls, which the Jewish Agency secretly snatched from a center for Ethiopians awaiting aliyah in Addis Ababa, arrived in Israel Thursday.

Jewish-American organization Nacoej took the initiative to bring the torah scrolls to Israel. The organization, which owned the center in Addis Ababa, closed it on Tuesday, and put it in the hands of other groups, one of which was “Jews for Jesus”. Nacoej asked the Jewish Agency to save the two scrolls which were used in the past for prayers in the center, for fear that they would fall into the hands of missionaries. The two scrolls were saved in a coordinated operation involving the Addis Ababa police, since the non-Jewish inhabitants of the center insisted on not giving them up.

A Jewish Agency envoy, Uri Conforti, arrived in Israel Thursday along with the scrolls. He said, “I was on vacation in Israel when we received the information that the aliyah center was being abandoned and put in the hands of the Ethiopians.”

“I immediately got on the first plane out with a legal document in hand giving me the authority to enter the center and take the torah scrolls,” he continued.

Addis Ababa police and Israeli embassy guards escorted Conforti in order to prevent unexpected problems. “There was a fear that other groups would take over the scrolls,” he said. He said the Jewish Agency received information that some applicants who were refused aliyah were planning to take the scrolls. “We asked the local police to support us and come along with embassy security guards to the center,” Conforti said.

Conforti said it was a quick and almost problem free operation. Once inside the center, those present told Conforti they did not have a key and asked him to come later, but he insisted on taking the scrolls right then. “Within five minutes we broke the lock and took the books,” he said.

The Torah scrolls that arrived in Israel Thursday have a magnificent history. One of them was donated by an American philanthropist, and the other was lent to the center’s synagogue by a Jewish community in Addis Baba that brought the scroll from Yemen at the turn of the century.

Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski pointed out that saving the two scrolls on Simchat Torah eve was symbolic of the verse, “And out of Zion shall come the Torah”.

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