…In Ethiopia, a tightly knit, religious community with traditional values and safeguards made wife murder a red line that men rarely crossed. The mejad, or inner part of a kitchen, was off limits to men if a woman was in there, according to Shula Mola, chair of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews. If a wife feared violence from her husband, she could take refuge in the home of an honored elder. Even after she returned to her own home, her husband would not dare harm her because that would damage the honor of the elder.
In every Ethiopian Jewish village, there were shmagala, wise elders who were consulted when problems arose.
The transition to modern, technological Israel erased these supports. Extended and even nuclear families, used to living side by side in Ethiopia, were dispersed, and a major source of daily support has been lost.…
Many of us who were active in Ethiopian rescue argued that the Jewish Agency’s and government’s insistence on separating elders from their constituents would lead to disaster. It has. Those who made those poor choices still hold their jobs. Ethiopian Jews – and Israel – suffer.