Seven years ago, more than 200,000 Americans
gathered in front of the Washington Monument
in an extraordinary display of solidarity with the persecuted
Jewish minority of the then-Soviet Union. A thousand Detroiters were
Skeptics shrugged at the futility. How could a protest by American
Jews have any effect on the mighty Soviet Union? How could this
gesture, no matter how dramatic, win the release of hundreds of
valiant refuseniks when every other effort had fallen upon deaf ears?
Two years later, the impossible became possible. With the collapse of
the Soviet Union, a window opened. Our people poured forth, out of
darkness and into the light of freedom -- some to America and Detroit,
but most of them, 500,000 in five years, to the State of Israel.
Not long afterward, an equally dramatic, and poignant, exodus took
place thousands of miles away, on the African continent, where other
political winds of change were occurring.
Fourteen thousand Ethiopian Jews, many of them trudging across
the desert, yielded to the call of ancient prayers to return to Zion.
Airlifted by Israel from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century, they were
gathered to the welcoming arms of jubilant relatives and the Jewish
Israel's children were coming home.