Years ago the first Jewish Ethiopian families began immigrating to Israel with the hope of escaping poverty and war. These Jews arrived in Israel with very little, and tried their best to learn Hebrew, as well as transition from an agricultural-based community to the high-tech world of Israel. They faced many obstacles, but also fulfilled a generations-long dream.
Years have passed, and many Ethiopian youth have forgotten the story of their community’s aliyah (immigration to Israel). So recently, The Fellowship hosted a gathering between the leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel today and high school students in Ashkelon, Israel. These leaders were able to share their powerful stories of aliyah with the next generation of Ethiopian Jews.
“Suddenly we found ourselves wondering about the origin of Ethiopian Jewry,” said one high school student. “The existence of the Ethiopian Jewish community for thousands of years is a wonderful and unbelievable story. Despite not speaking Hebrew for a hundred generations, the community guarded the spark of Israel . . . It's a story almost none of us know.”
“The Ethiopian exiles embarked on a daring journey through the deserts of Sudan,” said another student. “They trekked on marked paths towards the Promised Land.”
Thanks to the Ethiopian leaders who took the time to teach these high school students about their journey to Israel, their stories won’t be lost to the next generation.