Why Ethiopian Absorption Largely Failed

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.

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10 Comments

Filed under Ethiopian Jews, Israel

10 responses to “Why Ethiopian Absorption Largely Failed

  1. Anonymous

    I heard that the ethipians aren’t REALLY Jewish

  2. PishPosh

    You posted this same several months before. And to quote Shmarya, I heard the same about you.
    By definition those who have no cheseed are said to have a suspicious yichus and most likely are not Bnai Avraham. Sounds like you and the NK and all the other phony Khazar creeps.

  3. Paul Freedman

    My second cousin is dating a guy who worked for many years screening Ethiopan immigrants in Ethiopia and following up in Israel. It is unfair to put the blame for poor absorption solely on the various workers who were involved. The Ethiopians were not technologically high-skilled and, according to him, were not attracted to the low-status menial and factory labor which was available. The Israeli absorption system has a poor record of accomodating olim dating back to the anti-religious resettlement and separation of Sephardic children under Mapai with abrupt and arbitrary settlement decisions (anecdote: a Russian immigrant is placed on an absorption bus headed to a center in the Negev. Am I going to Jerusalem, the immigrant asks. Absolutely, he is reassured). People have tried however.

  4. NoDemonstrations

    There are legitimate poskim and researchers who doubt the Jewish heritage of the Ethiopian immigrants.

    I do not accept them as Jews (unless of course they at least undertake giyur lechumra which I believe was the psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein ZTL ZYA and join the mainstream Jewish community), but I also do not accept the secular medina as the arbiter of Jewish status, so it is hardly an issue.

    However, Israel needs to get its act together – if they took responsibility for these immigrants (for whatever reason), they need to do everything to make sure that an underclass does not form.

  5. Neo-Conservaguy

    Do you accept that many just fought and several died defending Israel? Or is that doubted be “legitimate poskim” as well. Then again, how many of those “legitimate poskim” every picked up a gun to defend the holy land, not to mention a hammer to build housing for needly Jews? A little time in the sun might provide some much needed perspective.

  6. NoDemonstrations

    The secular state and the Jewish People are 2 different things, as I stated above.

    It is the secular state (a political entity that includes non-Jews) which has a responsibility toward the Ethiopians whom they brought over (and used as cannon fodder).

    Those legitimate poskim are the ones whose ideals and teachings spearheaded organizations like Yad Sarah and Meir Panim, who undoubtedly help Ethiopians in need as well (I know that the former provides medical equipment to all).

  7. Neo-Conservaguy

    Are they two separate things? Wouldn’t those Ethiopians qualify for – at least – the status of Ger Toshav, according to Torah? Wasn’t conversion really just citizenship in those good old days? You bet it was – before the rabbis redefined it for their needs. Hey, I like rabbinic Judaism, I’m just pointing out there are different perspectives on the state/religion membership concept without even involving rabbinic judgment on “Jewish status”.

  8. Aliyah expert

    I have read several of your comments on these blogs about ethiopian immigrants.
    To begin with, you guys do not have any knowledge about Ethiopians and any proablmes that they are facing.
    You guys are just really irritating!!- there is NO valid argument as to what you critisize about.
    Ethiopian Jews believe in the TORAH before anyone ever discovered that there are jews in Ethiopia -END of STORY. They kept the strict rules of Judaism for hundreds and hundreds of years! They are eligible to live in Jerusalem, as there have always been anti-jewish situations in Ethiopia.

    I do not want to try to convince Muzzle-Heads like you guys, But I really think that blogging and commenting about Ethiopian jews should be removed from this website. It is only creating more ignorant idiots that try to mislead others who really want to learn about ethiopians.
    Please moderators remove the “ethiopian Jews” category now!

  9. NoDemonstrations

    Ger toshav does not apply today.

    However, as I said before, as far as the state is concerned, they are citizens and the state is responsible to absorb them properly.

    Jews can act according to whatever opinion they hold when it comes to personal status issues – but what the state does is the state’s business as no one can or should expect a secular state to be the guardian of Jewish status al pi halacha.

    As for the rant regarding Ethiopian practices, there is much evidence that they were pagans who picked up a sort of cargo cult mixture of Judaism and lehavdil Xity from passing traders.

    Be that as it may, giyur lechumra is what the posek hador at the time, R’ Moshe Feinstein, who was renowned for his integrity, paskened and that is best for all parties because it preserves dignity in the event there is a Jewish connection and allows for giyur if there was no connection.

  10. wonderer

    If the Jews have lived in a land far as Spain, Maroc, or even India, Why is it extremely HARD for you guys to understand that jews also lived in Ethiopia(Abyssinia)?? JUST TELL ME WHY?? If you have read your Torah, how many times has Ethiopia been mentioned in the Torah?? Was Poland mentioned in the TORAH? if that’s not good enough reason for you why don’t you check your map? Is Ethiopia very far away from the Holyland??
    Let’s even leave aside the Ethiopian Jewish culture, the language, and the tribe; If you hoppocrits are so smart to question the jewishness of Ethiopians then just answer my questions above!

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