With the help of modern Portuguese weapons, the Amhara finally conquered the Jews in 1616, enslaving, converting, and killing them.Known as "Falashas" - a derogatory name meaning "stranger" or "exile" - Ethiopian Jews could no longer own land or be educated.Michael's Church, the largest Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the nation. Michael's was built to accommodate Addis Ababa's growing number of Christians.Indeed, 12 years of Marxist rule appear to have barely dented Ethiopia's 1,600-year-old attachment to Christianity.Today Jews number only 25,000, less than 1 % of the population.Eighty-five percent live in Gondar Province, in the Semien Mountains near Lake Tana; the rest live in Tigre and Wollo Provinces. They have the Torah (Written Law) but not the Talmud (Oral Law). Their leaders are priests (kohanim) rather than rabbis.Otherwise their religion is the same as Judaism throughout the world, including observance of the Sabbath and Biblical dietary laws.They are religious Zionists - i.e., they dream of a return to Zion.
The Jews maintained their independence for over 1000 years in spite of continuous massacres, religious persecution, enslavement, and forced conversions.
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They have no knowledge or post-Biblical Jewish holidays such as Chanukah or Purim, or post-Biblical interpretations of the Law, e.g., the prohibition against mixing meat and milk.
Until recently Ethiopian Jews practiced animal sacrifice, and ritual purification through immersion in water.