Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Monday with new olim who arrived on Sunday from Yemen in a secret mission.
Israel spirited 19 Jews out of war-torn Yemen in a "covert operation" to rescue some of the last remnants of one of the world's most ancient Jewish communities, officials said Monday, according to AFP.
The operation transporting them to Israel almost brings to an end the presence of the Jewish community in Yemen, which once numbered around 60,000 people and dates back some 2,000 years.
Only 50 or so Jews now remain and have chosen to stay in the war-ravaged Arabian Peninsula country, according to the Jewish Agency, responsible for immigration to Israel. Most of them – around 40 – live in a protected compound adjacent to the US embassy in Sanaa.
"Nineteen individuals arrived in Israel in recent days, including 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sanaa," the agency said in a statement.
"The group from Raydah included the community's rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old."
Rabbi Salman Dahari, red-eyed and looking exhausted after his travels, told reporters the scroll had been passed down in his family.
Prime Minister Netanyahu viewed the scroll with some of the new olim. The Prime Minister and one of the children read from the Torah scroll together.
"Welcome to Jerusalem, to the Land of Israel. I am very excited to see you here. It is moving that you know to read from the Torah. This is the basis. For many years we have thought about bringing you and with G-d's help it is over," Netanyahu said
The olim thanked the Prime Minister warmly and blessed him for bringing them to Israel.