Photo Credit: Courtesy
Soldiers protecting Kfar Adumim and surrounding villages enjoying the Ethiopian cuisine.

Since October 7, Israelis all over the country have made meals for soldiers, delivered clothing to evacuated families, and picked and weeded vegetables on farms who have lost their workers. And this all continues now, nearly three months later.

The opportunities to help are endless, as is people’s desire to help. And we all do the best we can. Aside from personally volunteering in a number of capacities, my organization, Chochmat Nashim, is raising funds to provide professional stress-relieving therapies for wives and mothers of combat soldiers, as well as for female soldiers themselves.


So last Wednesday, when I was asked to raise money to provide healthy, nutritious, home-cooked Ethiopian food for on-duty soldiers – by the next morning, because Channel 12 wanted to do a live broadcast of the meal at 1:30 p.m. – I thought, how can I possibly take this on?


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But after speaking with Daniel, an Ethiopian former soldier, start-up entrepreneur, and community activist, I thought, how could I not?

However, I truly did not believe, even as I posted and WhatsApped, that I would be able to raise the money needed for this undertaking. So many people (myself included) are already raising funds for so many wonderful reasons. We hoped to raise 4,000 NIS. I shared the request with my WhatsApp groups, Instagram followers, and with a few other activists who have so much on their shoulders but who know how to activate fast.

In a few hours we had 7,500 NIS.

Israel’s Ethiopian community is about 180,000 strong. Exiled from Judea before the Second Temple, and before Rabbinic Judaism, the Jews of Ethiopia suffered religious persecution, forced migration, forced conversion, and horrific trials before they could make aliyah to Israel.

In order to live in the modern Jewish State, many underwent a “giyur l’chumrah” (a conversion out of an abundance of caution) and had to learn about Purim and Chanukah – and that white Jews existed. It has not been easy for them. In addition to learning that the Beit HaMikdash had been destroyed, they endured intolerance, suspicion, and tremendous culture shock.

Going from a pastoral, village existence to a modern, apartment/city lifestyle meant that many traditions could not be upheld. Now, younger Ethiopian generations are better integrated, but many still need assistance such as that offered by the organization Shoham, which includes intensive academic and social support to achieve greatness in school and elite army units.


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Despite their small numbers, the community has many innovators and entrepreneurs as well as activists bridging cultural gaps with joint projects and awareness.

Daniel Ishta, the man who asked for my help, came to Israel at the age of nine. He is a record holder in two- and ten-kilometer runs, an entrepreneur, and former IDF soldier in the elite intelligence unit 8200.

I picked up my parents and we drove out towards Kfar Adumim to meet up with Daniel and his gorgeous daughter as they set up a homemade Ethiopian meal for a group of soldiers protecting the local towns.

Daniel wants to bring Ethiopian food and wisdom to wider Israeli society, not only because of its status as gluten-free, but because, as he says, “It’s the secret to Ethiopian and Eritrean running success.” Teff is a grain that is indigenous to Ethiopia and Eritrea. It’s highly efficient and healthy and completely gluten-free, which is excellent for those with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. On the downside, injera – the Ethiopian bread-like staple – takes three to four days and a lot of work to produce.

The soldiers were completely enamored not only with the food and the presentation but by the mix of people who came together to put it together. Smiles and appreciation were as plentiful as the food – and of course, the black coffee. At a time when life is heavy and painful, Channel 12 broadcast a live report from the meal and shared it with their audience.

What an absolute joy and privilege to learn, to give and to receive. Especially since, 24 hours earlier, I had been sitting in the shiva tent of an Ethiopian family in our city whose 22-year-old son, Brano Kassia, z”l, was killed in Gaza.

We don’t know enough about one another, about the culture, the history, and the pain – and we need to.

Daniel and I are discussing more plans and joint projects. We plan to do more meals as well as gift Ethiopian families with the cooking utensils that Daniel works with. His startup, by the way, Top Teff, has harnessed the health of teff without the length of time it takes to prepare. The company makes instant products such as bread, cookies, tortillas, and instant injera. He’s raising money to provide soldiers with gluten allergies and sensitivities healthy gluten-free meals.

This friendship, as Daniel says, is for the long road, not for the sprint, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate on projects for the Ethiopian community and the Israeli community at large, because as Daniel says, “We are all Israeli, not American, not Ethiopian, not Mizrachi or Ashkenazi – we are all Israeli.”

We are all one.

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Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll is cofounder of Chochmat Nashim, fighting the extremist trends that harm the community. Originally from Lakewood, she lives in Israel with her family.