Ethiopians in Israel Protest Rites Ruling

United Press International

Hundreds of chanting Ethiopian Jews marched to the Western Wall on Sunday to protest a ruling by Jewish religious leaders that the Ethiopian immigrants must undergo symbolic conversion to Judaism before they can marry.

One activist warned that protests “unprecedented in the history of the state of Israel” will follow if the issue is not resolved.

The black marchers, mostly young men, marched through Zion Gate into Jerusalem’s Old City waving their fists and chanting, “Color does not come off in a ritual bath,” a reference to the conversion procedure demanded by Israel’s chief rabbis.

The rabbis say the symbolic conversion is necessary because of years of intermarriage in the Ethiopian Jewish community.