The Last Exodus of the Yemenite Jews
On Thursday, December 11th, 2008, Moshe Yaish Nahari was gunned down on the street in Raida, Yemen. This event will be the catalyst that provokes the final exodus of Yemenite Jewry, the oldest Jewish community in the world, and it will be gone forever, lost to the sands of time.
His killer, an mentally unstable former Yemeni Air Force pilot, called upon him to accept Islam, and when he refused he opened fire with his Kalishnikov (which non-Jews in Raida carry like a fashion accessory) and shot Moshe 5 times. The man, Abd al-Aziz al-Abadi, had killed his wife two years prior and managed to escape jail time by paying off his late wife’s family.
The judge in the case was originally pushing the death sentence, but when the Sheikh of al-Abadi’s tribe vowed to execute every last Jew in Raida, the judge apparently has backed down. The entire Jewish community has received death threats. Saadia Hala, the man I stayed with when in the village, had his house firebombed, and a grenade lobbed at his door.
The Forward has an excellent article about the murder here.
This is the straw that will finally break the camel’s back. The Jews are currently in the process of selling their homes, and moving to Sana’a to await the next move, out of the country. Many will come to Israel, because they will recieve support and assistance, others will go to Jewish communities in America or the UK.
I have wanted, for some time now, to return to the village and do a major project of oral history and story recording within the community, it seems that perhaps that the boat has sailed and I have missed my window. The nature of the project, therefore, is changing. Now there is a potential for a great project documenting their new lives here in Israel, almost 60 years after the vast majority of their coreligionist countrymen arrived on Israeli soil.