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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian’

Yityish Aynaw Crowned the 5773 Miss Israel

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The 2013 Israeli Beauty pageant provided the usual amount of tears of joy and of disappointment from the contestants, but also managed to record a historic moment: Yityish Aynaw, 21, of my home town of Netanya, was turned in an instant from a shoe store manager into a queen.

She broke out in tears as soon as she heard her name announced. A former Israeli army officer, she became the first Ethiopian-Israeli to win the Miss Israel pageant.

I’d like to think that all of us here, in Netanya, have become queens, even if for only a moment, as we basked in Yityish Aynaw’s glory.

A panel of judges at the International Convention Center Haifa on Wednesday awarded the title to the young and gorgeous model, who came to Israel only about a decade ago.

“It’s important that a member of the Ethiopian community wins the competition for the first time,” she told the judges during the spoken word part of the competition. “There are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to show that to the world.”

Aynaw came to Israel with her brother after their parents had passed away, when she was 12. Acclimating to Israel was difficult at first, Aynaw said, but she picked up the language quickly with the help of a friend.

She has been working as a shoe store manager since her army discharge.

During the competition, Aynaw, who said Israel badly needed more dark skinned models, cited the slain American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her heroes.

“He fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here: I want to show that my community has many pretty qualities that aren’t always represented in the media,” she said.

JTA content was used in this report.

Yori Yanover

Israeli Jewelry Entrepreneurs Give Back to Ethiopian Community

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Orna Levy is a fourth generation Jerusalemite whose family has been in the jewelry-making business for the past 100 years. Orna and her husband Itzik Levy, an immigrant from Argentina, created the Yvel company in 1986, and their jewelry line—featuring pearls, sapphires, diamonds and other gems—is internationally known. Today, Yvel (Levy spelled backwards) manufactures its jewelry in Israel and exports to 650 retail outlets on five continents including Neiman Marcus. Katy Perry, Rihanna, Maria Sharapova, Scarlett Johansson and Isla Fisher have been seen wearing Yvel-designed jewelry at celebrity functions and on magazine covers.

The company’s employees are mostly immigrants who have come to Israel from places like the United States, Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. The Levys’ business philosophy is firmly rooted in social responsibility and philanthropy.

“Itzik’s father lost all of his family’s savings in a bad business deal upon arriving to Israel,” explains Orna. “Itzik has never forgotten this and has always aimed to strengthen weaker immigrant populations in Israel.”

This is why Itzik and Orna celebrated Yvel’s 25th anniversary in 2010 by establishing the Megemeria School of Jewelry and Art, which offers professional training in jewelry crafting and design to new Ethiopian immigrants.

Partnering with the Association for Community Empowerment (Yedid), which assists Israelis in becoming self-sufficient members of society, the Levys opened the school within the Yvel complex, outside Jerusalem. The school gives the students, who are all recent immigrants from Ethiopia, jewelry-making training followed by employment opportunities in the Yvel factory once they complete the program.

While learning the jewelry trade, including gem-setting, gold and silver-smithing, and the design process, the students also receive Hebrew lessons, family budget and management training, math courses, and Israeli cultural lessons. For many of the Ethiopian students, who had little if no formal education back in Ethiopia, these supplementary courses are critical for a better integration into Israeli society and finding employment.

Yedid’s executive director Sari Rivkin says that the first graduating class of Megemeria has produced a special collection which was inspired by the immigrants’ personal and collective journey from Ethiopia to Israel. “Many of the jewelry designs feature words from the students’ native Amharic language. This is a very unique social enterprise,” Rivkin explains.

Once the students graduate and take the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor certification exam, they can begin working at Yvel’s Design Center either in jewelry design or in sales and administration. For the graduating class this year, eight will continue on with Yvel, making and selling jewelry, with profits helping to cover their salaries and the costs of the school.

Abbito Einalem, an Ethiopian student who came with no background in crafting jewelry, now looks on proudly at a pendant she has created, inscribed with the Amharic word desta, which means happiness. “I want to continue in this profession in the future,” she says. “It has given me so much already.”

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Mass Aliyah is Beginning of End of Ethiopia Project

Monday, October 29th, 2012

It’s the beginning of the end of Ethiopian aliyah, as 240 Ethiopians alight a plane to Israel Monday afternoon, the first of a series of flights dubbed Operation Dove’s Wings which will take place until the last one in March 2014, marking the end of the state of Israel’s rescue of the Falash Mura  – Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry.

Many of today’s olim have been waiting in the refugee camp in Gondar province for years – as many as 10.  Last July, amidst outcries from Israel’s Ethiopian community, Israel decided to conduct a last major endeavor to remove the last remaining Jews – and their descendants – from the African country.

The Jewish Agency’s Ibim Absorption Center near Sderot will house up to 600 new immigrants, with a budget of $3.1 million from the Jewish Agency and $1.4 million from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was scheduled to attend Monday’s event, cancelled his appearance, but Vice Premier Silvan Shalom will attend in his place along with other government officials, dignitaries and philanthropists.

Malkah Fleisher

Mourner in the Crowd

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

A member of the Ethiopian community in Israel attended late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s funeral on Monday. In May 1991, as the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was collapsing, Shamir ordered the airlifting of fourteen thousand Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon.

Jewish Press Staff

Farmers to Scholars – The Journey of Adiso and Yonatan Jambar

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Sitting with these two youths in Jerusalem, it is hard to believe their story is true. The two brothers, Adiso and Yonatan Jambar, aged eighteen and sixteen, emigrated from the village of Achfar in Ethiopia five years ago.

A family of eight children, they were the only Jews in the village. Their father made a living as a farmer and as an agricultural tools merchant. Yonatan can’t forget the Anti-Semitic attacks they suffered. The family was aware of their Judaism, but did not really lead a Jewish life. Their uncle was a well established land dealer. At some point he ran into difficulties, his house was burned and he was forced to leave the village. The rest of the family was forced to follow suit, selling their possessions at a very low price. They had to walk to the city of Gondar, seven hours away. Here, they attended a Jewish school, still suffering from various Anti-Semitic attacks. Yonatan remembers one incident when he was playing soccer with other boys, and they began to ridicule him for being a Jew. On the way back from school, he was attacked. The family lived in Gondar for five years, and them decided to make Aliya – to move to Israel. The family’s grandfather had already moved to Israel, and they joined him in 2007. Yonatan tells of a certain sense of shock when first arriving in Israel, but the family quickly adjusted to their new lives.

They first stayed at an absorption center, and later moved to Kiryat Yam in Northern Israel. After only half a year, they had a good command of the Hebrew language. The two brothers began to study at a Yeshiva-high school. “After learning Hebrew, we joined the regular class and there we found friends, good friends.” Yonatan began at a fifth grade level, but rapidly progressed and was moved into the seventh grade. While he was in the seventh grade, their family became closer to the Jewish tradition and began to lead a religious life. In Israel, they felt more secure about their Judaism and their bond to Jewish values and heritage became more prominent in their life. After two years in the Haifa area, the family decided to move to Ma’aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.

The parents did not have an easy time finding a source of income, having to work at difficult jobs; but they constantly had their children’s education in mind. Today, the boys study at Ma’aleh Adumim Yeshiva-high School, Adiso in the twelfth grade and Yonatan in the tenth. They spend much of their time studying for the matriculation exams. Both have achieved impressive results, an outcome of difficult and prolonged efforts on their part, as well as special attention given by the school staff. Their day is long and crammed, starting at eight in the morning, and ending at six or seven o’clock at night. Their program is very intensive, including religious studies, math, English, physics, biology, technology and electronics, history. One of their teachers, Itamar Golan, said, “Today, they are first rate students in the Yeshiva. Studies at the Yeshiva are intensive and grueling. With the close accompaniment of the staff, they are both very successful, despite all the obstacles they have encountered.”

Their parents constantly encourage them, pushing them to fulfill their potential. They want Yonatan to become a doctor. He excels in biology, and hopes to become a vet. His grades are high, but he would rather not talk about himself. He believes one should be judged by their values, identity and personality; not grades.

Adiso, a top notch student as well, believes in influencing and contributing through social activities. He joined the Ariel youth group a short time after joining the Yeshiva. He became a leader in the group, and his dream is to influence Israeli society, generating a positive change. Yonatan joined the youth group with Adiso, becoming a youth leader as well. They are both involved in youth activities, educating the members of their group on the values of mutual accountability. They believe they have the power to minimize and even eliminate violence among youth. Through activities and games, they teach proper methods of communication between the youth, showing that violence is not necessary.

The brothers believe more can be done to further promote and assist the Ethiopian community in Israel. Today, the younger generation of Ethiopian immigrants serves as a guide to the older generation, helping them to integrate. Yonatan and Adiso have encountered some prejudice, but don’t dwell on them, preferring to look to the future.

Yonatan has fond memories of Achfar, but believes his life is better today, in Israel. His way of life and religious values are important to him, as well as his sense of belonging to the Jewish Nation, which he feels in Israel, and the security the Ethiopian immigrants feel. “In Israel, when I compare my life to the one I had in Ethiopia – it is better here. Our basic needs are the sense of security and the feeling of a belonging to an entity we believe in, leading the life the way we want. We find these basic needs met in Israel.”

Assaf Yair, Tazpit News Agency

Mediterranean Blues

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Young IDF soldier playing saxophone on the Tel Aviv boardwalk near Jaffa, May 3, 2012.

“The port area is a mixed suburb of buildings, interlaced by small streets, the main one of square cobblestones. Scores of shops, pubs, art and exhibition galleries, entertainment centers and restaurants – from Eastern European to Ethiopian, from kosher to crabs, from spaghetti bolognaise to bourekas – have gone up not far from the garages and large stores.  The nearer you get to the boardwalk and the sea, the more places you find to eat and drink.”

Mike Porter, Tel Aviv Boardwalk, Ezra Magazine

 

Jewish Press Staff

Title: The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Title: The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs Editor: Rabbi Menachem Waldman Publisher: Koren Publishing

It’s a humbling experience to live in Israel, among Jews whose genes date back to Bayit Rishon. It’s equally humbling to study the historical overview that is The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom: Celebrating Ethiopian Jewish History, Traditions & Customs. Looking at life untouched by Talmudic exegesis is a trip into the collective Jewish past, a historic breakthrough.

Rav Rachamim Goshen discussed this new publication with me. A man of Ethiopian heritage who teaches in the Ahavat Yisrael/Rappaport school for girls in Bet Shemesh, he appreciates, among other cultural realities presented in the book, Koren’s accurate representation of Ethiopian prayer leaders called kessim. “Ethiopian women and many males only answer ‘Amen’ to the prayers chanted by the kessim,” he and the Koren haggadah agree.

We were impressed with the Hebrew-English haggadah’s photographic evidence of the lives led by Ethiopian Jews. The pottery, the unembellished homes, schools and synagogues, the gaunt Jews in modest clothing and head coverings guiding equally emaciated farm animals portray dedication to Torah values despite harsh political and topographical conditions. Colorful paintings by children and artisans complement the photos with a sense of gaiety. Amharic documents spread across several pages give global Jewry a peek into the literacy and literature of Jews cut off from centuries of contact with the wider Jewish world. Ethiopia’s Jews were surprised to learn of Ashkenaz, western and other Jewish groups in the late 18th century. Razed by forcible Christian missionaries and conversions, Ethiopia’s surviving Jewish communities had believed themselves to be the only remnants of Judaism worldwide.

Editor Rabbi Menachem Waldman provided an undetailed mention of his decades’ worth of rescue efforts among Ethiopia’s Jews in the forward. He stands off to the side, so to speak, letting Ethiopian Jewry’s story tell itself. Page 53’s black and white rendering of The Vision of Abba Baruch appears beneath a photo of the priest’s face. The prophetic 1935/5695 announcement described the future rescue of Ethiopian Jews. Rare photos show that arduous, sometimes fatal journey through the Sudan to freedom, plus initial experiences with modern technology. Hold the haggadah a distance from your eyes that will likely fill with tears. The artwork, the faces filled with fear, awe and naiveté alert readers to the miracle of Jewish Ethiopia’s isolated survival over centuries.

The cover photo of Ethiopian Jewish women preparing matzot is an apt metaphor for the Pesach experience. As I watched a man who has saved many lives on his own initiative – my friend Rabbi Ephraim Kestenbaum of kosher oat matzah fame – reading this publication, my soul resonated with his words, “Everyone must read this haggadah. I want one.”

The Koren Ethiopian Haggada Journey to Freedom belongs around the Jewish world.

Yocheved Golani is the author of “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge” (booklocker.com/books/3067.html).

Yocheved Golani

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-the-koren-ethiopian-haggada-journey-to-freedom-celebrating-ethiopian-jewish-history-traditions-customs/2012/03/29/

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