VOLUNTEER FROM ETHIOPIA – MENASHE BALCHA
One known volunteer from Ethiopia was the Falasha Jew, Menashe Balcha, who had come out of the mists of time to deposit his weary limbs in Johannesburg. He had walked and hitchhiked all the way. The emaciated black man from whose lips the Hebrew words of the Book fell so easily, despite his illiteracy, came to the attention of the Zionist Federation which took him under its care. After good care, good food and rest, Menashe was able to recover from his arduous pilgrimage. He had not come to stay. In some way he had learned about the re-birth of Israel and the Ingathering of the Exiles and had expressed his ardent wish to go to the land of his forefathers.
Without papers of identity it was a stroke of luck that he found the Zionist Federation. In Apartheid South Africa it would have been impossible for him to join other volunteers and fly to Rome.
The Federation sent him to Cape Town to join a small group of South African volunteers ready to sail to Palestine in the 6000 ton Danish vessel, "Bennyskou," chartered by the South African Jewish community with a special cargo of food and clothing for the embattled state.
Menashe Balca joined Israel's new Navy.