The History of Ethiopian Jewry

The Jewish community in Ethiopia — the Beta Israel (House of Israel) — has existed for about 15 centuries.

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Due to low literacy levels, a tendency to rely on oral traditions, and nomadic lifestyles among most Ethiopians before the 20th century, historical material about this community is scant and unreliable. However, a tentative story can be put together from written records of Ethiopian rulers along with testimony from Beta Israel themselves.

Origins of the Community
Most likely, Beta Israel made their way to Ethiopia between the first and sixth centuries, coming as merchants or artisans from various countries within the region.

An Ethiopian Jewish family shortly after arriving in Israel in 2009. (Jewish Agency for Israel/Flickr)An Ethiopian Jewish family shortly after arriving in Israel in 09.

Scholars once believed that during the Middle Ages, Beta Israel was a homogeneous group living under unified, autonomous Jewish rule. Yet discoveries have shown the reality is much more complicated. It seems the Ethiopian Jewish community was, for the most part, fragmented both physically and religiously, with each Beta Israel village appointing its own spiritual and secular leaders. There was little contact between Beta Israel communities, and usually no overarching leadership uniting them.

Sometimes Beta Israel was treated well from the Ethiopian monarchy, but at other times they suffered persecution. Many fellow Ethiopians refer to Beta Israel as Falasha (a derogatory term meaning outsider), In 1624, the ruling king’s army captured many Ethiopian Jews, forced them to be able to be baptized, and denied them the right to own land. Based on local legend, some participants in Beta Israel chose suicide over conversion.

Religious Life
Because the Beta Israel community existed as an isolated condition from other Jewish communities around the world, they formed a unique set of ethical practices — in specific ways, quite different from what is usually considered “Jewish.” For instance, the online order of Ethiopian Jewish monks was founded in the 15th century to strengthen the community’s religious identity and resist Christian influence. This monastic movement introduced a systematic strategy to spiritual practice, creating new religious literature and prayers, and adopting laws of formality purity. Historians found out about the community’s religious life within the 19th century from the writings of Joseph Halevy, a French Jew who visited the world in 1867. He provided the first eyewitness account of Beta Israel’s life coming from a European Jewish perspective. However, Halevy described a residential area that followed legal sections in the Hebrew Bible and observed laws of purity surrounding menstruation, birth, and death. They observed Shabbat and believed in values, for instance, respecting elders, receiving guests, and visiting mourners. They referred to the Torah as Orit (possibly beginning with the Aramaic term for the Torah, Oraita), and kept their Torah scrolls contain colorful cloths in houses of prayer or the properties of 1 of the kessim (priests).

Ethiopian rabbis (Kessim) with the ceremony associated with a new spiritual leader in Ashkelon, Israel, in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons)Ethiopian rabbis (Kessim) at the tradition of a new spiritual leader in Ashkelon, Israel, in 2012. Like today in Israel, Ethiopian Jews celebrated Sigd, a festival that commemorates the giving of the Torah. On this holiday, community members would quick, climb the highest mountain within the area, and listen to the kessim chant passages of the Hebrew Bible, particularly the Book of Nehemiah. At the later part of the day, they might descend, break their fast, and rejoice in their renewed acceptance of the Orit.

Missionaries and Trying Times
At the time of Halevy’s report, perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing the Ethiopian Jewish community was European missionary activity. Although the community had frequently been provoked to convert by Ethiopian authorities, missionaries from abroad — with large-scale, organized missions — presented an even stronger threat.

European missionaries, well-versed in the Hebrew Bible, were educated and skilled in debate. Beta Israel’s clergy could not compete. By providing schools and Bibles written in the local language, Amharic, the missionaries challenged the community’s practice and faith.

On any range of occasions, Beta Israel’s monastic clergy tried to escape the missionaries’ influence by leading their communities to the Promised Land (Israel). More often than not, these journeys were disastrous. One particular attempt in 1862 ended in large-scale starvation and death.

Between 1882 and 1892, the regions of Ethiopia where Beta Israel lived experienced a famine that killed approximately one third to one half of Beta Israel.

This world Jewish Community
Halevy’s student, Jaques Faitlovitch, was the very first Jewish foreigner to operate in earnest on improving conditions regarding the Ethiopian Jewish community. Arriving for his first visit in 1904 and returning many times in subsequent years, Faitlovitch created tiny schools in Addis Ababa for Beta Israel members, hand-picked 25 young leaders for education abroad, and acted as an emissary concerning this world Jewish community.

Faitlovich secured two letters from rabbis abroad, acknowledging Beta Israel as fellow Jews. The very first letter, written in 1906, called Beta Israel, “our brethren, sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who live in Abyssinia” and “our flesh and blood.” The letter, which promised to help the community within its religious education, was signed by 44 world Jewish leaders, including the chief rabbis of London and Vienna and of course, the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.

The next letter, from 1921, was written by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the revered Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine. He called on the Jewish people worldwide to avoid wasting Beta Israel — “50,000 holy souls considering the house of Israel” — from “extinction and contamination.”

Faitlovich’s work towards behalf of the Beta Israel community arrived in a dramatic halt with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935-6. Under fascist rule, it became forbidden to experience Judaism in Ethiopia.

Some of Faitlovitch’s work was undeniably controversial — he made a schism dividing the young, westernized leaders he chose beginning with the elders of the rural communities. But, till the 1960s, no person but Faitlovitch took such a dedicated interest in the community, invested in it financially and educationally, and visited with such regularity. Moreover, it was the letters that Faitlovitch delivered to Ethiopia from Kook along with other contemporary Jewish leaders that allowed Beta Israel to cling to their dreams of returning to the Promised Land, and, decades later, for world Jewry to readily accept them.

Author Resource Box:
https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-history-of-ethiopian-jewry/

Jewish traditional teachings on being a good host and guest

Rabbinic literature is abundant in claims praising the application of hospitality on behalf of visitors and indigents. One even refers to it as “greater than welcoming the Divine Presence [Sh’khinah].”

A Midrash exhibits the biblical patriarch Abraham since the paragon of hospitality, because of his reception of wayfarers in Genesis 18. His position in the entry of his tent in the midday heat is viewed as a proactive seeking out of passing visitors. Other components of the storyline, too, play a role in Abraham’s reputation: his eagerness, his largesse, and his insistence on seeing his visitors off as they departed.

The citizens of Jerusalem, too, are depicted in Midrashic literature as excelling in this virtue. If the Holy Temple still stood in Jerusalem, that city was the getaway of pilgrims from throughout the Land of Israel in the three harvest festivals. The rabbinic storytellers of late antiquity relate that Jerusalem’s citizens opened their residences for free to those visitors.

Not just our food and accommodation to be offered for passing visitors, but the travelers should be accommodated graciously. The statement of the first sage Shammai this one should “greet every person with a cheerful facial expression” (Mishnah Avot 1:15) is understood midrashically (in Avot De-Rabbi Natan 13) as an admonition to hosts to not provide for their guests amply but angrily. Better, teaches the Midrash, to offer a guest but a little in a gracious tone than large portions proffered grudgingly.

At the start of a traditional Passover seder, Jews recite a formulaic declaration of an “open house” policy of hospitality: “Let all who will be hard-pressed come and eat. Let all that are in need come and share the Passover sacrifice.” This statement is an expansion of what the third-century Babylonian sage Rav Huna was proven to make each time he sat down to a meal: “Let all who will be in need come and eat!” (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 20b).

Some Jewish communities of the past institutionalized the practice of providing cordial reception to wayfarers by developing a furnished home for such temporary visitors. Others offered them lodging when you look at the communal synagogue. The Diaspora tradition of reciting into the synagogue the kiddush prayer at the beginning of a Shabbat or holiday evening — a prayer usually offered where the festive meal is eaten — has its origins for the reason that use of the community’s gathering space.

To this day, it is a hallmark of many Jewish communities that unfamiliar participants in synagogue worship, specifically on Shabbat or holidays, are invited to local people’s homes for a meal — and, if arrangements are created in advance, frequently for lodging as well.

Traditional mandates extend into the guest as well. Guests should stay away from causing hosts extra work. They ought to accede with their host’s or hostess’s requests. A guest should not bring along another, unasked guest. If the guest and host are going into the home together, the visitor should defer to the host. Leaving together, a guest should leave ahead of the host.

Reference

Jewish Hospitality | My Jewish Learning. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jewish-hospitality/

Did you know that 90% of Jews Are Genetically Linked to the Levant?

Jews in communities round the globe show more hereditary characteristics with each other compared to they do making use of their non-Jewish neighbors, apart from India and Ethiopia.

Truly the only three conditions were the Jews of India, Ethiopia, and Georgia, who had additional similarity to their host nations than to other Jewish communities.

The study also showed the genetic ties involving the Jewish people as well as other peoples of the Levant: In communities representing 90 percent of this Jewish people worldwide, Jews were more genetically comparable to non-Jewish Levantines than their non-Jewish hosts were.

The analysis discovered genetic substructures not found in many other Middle Eastern populations.

Researchers from eight countries – Israel, Britain, the United States, Russia, Spain, Estonia, Portugal and Italy – compared 600,000 genetic markers in 114 people from 14 Diaspora Jewish communities and 1,161 individuals from 69 non-Jewish populations.

Contemporary Jews comprise an aggregate of ethno-religious communities whose worldwide members identify with each other through assorted shared religious, historical and cultural traditions.

Cartoon misrepresenting Ann Frank

Frank died at 15 in the Nazi concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen in 1945 United Kingdom military liberated it. The posthumous syndication of the young Jewish girl’s diary, which in turn shed light on life under Nazi occupation, presented her as a significant figure through the Holocaust.

Frank’s face was in fact then positioned above the picture of a bikini-clad female’s body.

The cartoon received instant repercussion, together with the regional Anti-Defamation League stating this surpassed the line from humor to anti-Semitism.

Note from the author:

I normally don’t get in discuss about this but, as a multi-ethnic person who has Jewish roots. I believe people should be accountable for their words. Words do matter. The sole focus is to become the best person you can be in this universe. Misrepresenting or slandering one’s culture is offensive and the person doing it should no better. There are many sensitive issue. Many Jewish people died in Nazi concentration camps. Some of those people were my relatives. There are times, I shake my head and think, what is the matter with our culture and country? I leave my reader with this quote from Ann Frank, ” In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

Why was that Holocaust Remembrance Day interrupted by White Supremacists in Arkansas City?

A Holocaust Remembrance Day event in Arkansas city, Arkansas was interrupted by a group of white supremacists, a local news station reported.

About 8-12 men strolled by the Holocaust Remembrance event holding swastika flags, a white cross and posters with anti-Semitic slogans.

The appearance of the white supremacist group comes as Arkansas Technical University, located in Russellville, is being criticized for creating a scholarship in honor of a deceased professor who many have taught Holocaust-denying books in his class.

But in a letter sent to the school last week, the ADL alleges that Link consistently gave students books that questioned the “myth” of the Holocaust, and participated in online forums where he denied the historical reality of the Holocaust. The university has said that it has no evidence that Link was a Holocaust denier, but appears to have elided evidence that others had raised concerns about Link’s beliefs about the Holocaust more than ten years ago.

People present at the event this week posted pictures of the white supremacists, many of whom wore camouflage-print clothing and masks and hats that obscured their faces.

Russellville is something of a hot spot for white supremacists. In February, authorities arrested 54 members of a white supremacist gang in and around Russellville. The group, called the New Aryan Empire, has been fingered for murders, violent assaults, kidnappings and meth distribution in the area.

Praying as meditation

Prayer is a form of art, yet it can be learned. It takes the mechanical skill of reading, although the terms may possibly not be understood, and the spiritual mindset of the prepared heart, a sympathetic mind, and a genuine aspire to be successful. If pursued with diligence, the result will soon be definitely worth the effort spent. In the same way a individual must practice a learned language to gain and retain fluency; in the same way an athlete and musician must rehearse daily, rigorously to do efficiently, so must a Jew pray regularly to do so efficiently.

The daily food diet of prayer is comprised of early morning and evening prayers, Shacharit in the morning, Minchah and Maariv, in belated afternoon and evening. On their Sabbath, there clearly was one more service, Mussaf, added about the early morning. One prayer is main to each and every worship service, morning and evening, weekday, Shabbat, and getaway: the Amidah the “Standing” Prayer, which will be also called the Shmoneh Esrai, the “Eighteen” blessings, or the Silent Devotion.

Truth be told, prayer is not easy. Real prayer can be as demanding – at the least as demanding – once the carrying on of a small business conversation or perhaps the writing of the letter. It purports to become an interaction having a Listener. The child and the newcomer struggle due to their unfamiliarity. Devout worshipers have trouble with their over-familiarity. All individuals of any training or any faith are to do their best when conversing with G‑d.

Black Jewish Voices Are At last Being Noticed. So Is The Hurtful Repercussion.

Seeing that Jews of Color benefit from additional presence and representation inside the Jewish community and beyond, we are pressing the limitations of Jewish interactions on inclusion, ethnic background, and governmental policies. Many people inside the Jewish community begin to see the worth of our efforts. But we are likewise faced with a hurtful repercussion.

The challenging facets of Jews of Color’s identities are in reality display of the effectiveness of the faith and impression of community. The decision showing how all of us build relationships in Jewish spiritual life is an individual one, and not the business of any person but the Rabbis and the ones we are in close association.

Having ones Jewishness inhibited based on ones ethnic background is nothing unique with respect to Jewish Persons of Color. It could possibly appear wherever and become something as apparently innocent like a question, or as hazardous as calling the authorities and instigating mob violence of any kind.

Re-discovering the joys of Racial Diversity in Your Synagogues: Who Are actually Jews of Color?

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Jews of Color is a pan-ethnic concept which is used to distinguish Jews whose family roots happen to be traditionally in African, Asian or Latin-American countries around the world. Jews of Color may possibly indicate that they are Black, Latino/a, Asian-American or perhaps of mixed heritage which include biracial or multi-racial.

As a result of many reasons, Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews who cam from North African and Arab countries differ in whether they self-identify as “Jews of Color.”

Jews of Color become a member of the Jewish community in lots of ways, including: birth, transracial/transnational adoption, and conversion. Additionally, the Jewish community incorporates a number of people of color who become a member of the Jewish community because of family connections, i.e. through interfaith relationship, but who maintain their faith-identity.

The research concerning the population of Jews of Color suggests that that 11% of Jews in America happen to be Jews of Color.

Could there be hidden bias groups in Britain?

BritainNearly half a century ago, when he first became a working supporter of Britain’s Work Party, Rabbi Abraham Pinter said it had much less of a problem with anti-Semitism than the country as a whole.
But whilst other political groups have got recognized the need to address bias against Jews, Pinter stated the country’s main resistance party was stuck in past times.
Labour now faces claims of anti-Semitism in its rates – from its high-profile previous London mayor Ken Livingstone, who said Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism, to students at Oxford University or college. This has fanned concern amongst Jewish communities already concerned at increasing levels of hate crimes.

“The Labour Party never recognized it a new problem. It’s really exactly where it was 50 years ago, inch said Pinter, a former Work councilor who speaks pertaining to the Orthodox Haredi Judaism community in the Restaurant Stamford grand Hill area of north Greater London.
“It’s been there and it’s really still there, ” this individual told Reuters.
Some inside Labour say they are getting accused of anti-Semitism only for expressing legitimate criticisms of Israel. Senior figures have got said prejudice is limited to a small fringe and had been used to smear party head Jeremy Corbyn.

But the line could play a role in Thursday’s London mayoral election. Work candidate Sadiq Khan, broadly tipped to become the capital’s first Muslim mayor, stated he was appalled simply by Livingstone’s comments and that they can harm his chances within a city home to an approximated 170, 000 Jews.
Moshe Menezira, manager of the Kosher Deli in Golders Green in north London, that has a large Jewish community, stated there seemed to be an issue within Labour and that it had been leading to many Jewish voters reconsidering whether to back again Khan.
“I know a lot of Labour supporters yet they’re in two thoughts because of what is going on, ” the 65-year-old said.
Last week, Labour’s leadership suspended Livingstone and ordered an inquiry in to anti-Semitism in the party following comments the ex-mayor made in a radio interview that Hitler had backed Zionism in the 1930s before “he went crazy and ended up killing 6 million Jews”.
Livingstone have been defending a Labour Muslim lawmaker after she apologized for posting online text messages which included a suggestion that His home country of israel should be relocated to the United states of america to solve the problems in the Middle East.
The incidents sparked claims from Jewish leaders that Labour leaders and those for the British political left had been doing too little to overcome anti-Semitism in their ranks.
“There is now a cancer within their party and it is getting even worse by the day, ” the Judaism Chronicle newspaper said within an editorial in March. “If Labour is not to reduce the last residue of trust from our community, it must recognize and deal with that cancer. ”
Suspensions
Competitors of Labour have previously leveled accusations of anti-Semitism against socialist Corbyn, who had been elected party leader last September. They pointed to a speech he produced about the Middle East last year, in which he described Hamas and Hezbollah – groupings designated as terrorist agencies by Britain and the United states of america – as “friend.
Conventional Prime Minister raised individuals comments during heated exchanges with Corbyn in parliament on Wednesday.
“Are they will your friends or are they not really? Because those organizations within their constitutions believe in persecuting and killing Jews, ” Cameron said. “They’re anti-Semitic agencies, they’re racist organizations, this individual must stand up and state they are not his close friends. ”
Corbyn replied: “Obviously anyone that commits racist works or is anti-Semitic can be not a friend of my own. ”
The Labour head has previously said he previously used the term friends in “a collective way”.
The parliament exchange and the line surrounding Livingstone followed harming headlines for Labour in February, when the co-chairman of the Oxford University Work Club quit, saying “a large proportion of both OULC and the student still left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews”.
On Tuesday, Labour stated it had suspended 3 councillors in northern and central England because of anti-Semitic remarks.
Independent Jewish Sounds, a human rights group set up in 2007 which criticizes some of Israel’s policies, stated it was concerned at capturing suggestions that anti-Semitism was pervasive in the party.
“We also reiterate the view that the battle against anti-Semitism is undermined anytime opposition to Israeli federal government policies is automatically top quality as anti-Semitic, ” this said.
But some Jewish market leaders say Labour has more than the usual fringe problem, with anti-Zionism often used as a cover for being anti-Jewish.
“In latest days, we have heard anti-Semitism in the Labour Party described variously as ‘a smear’ and as ‘mood music’ being manipulated by politics opponents of Jeremy Corbyn, ” Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wrote in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph paper.
“There has been nothing more disheartening in this story than the suggestion that this much more about politics than regarding substance. ”
‘Becoming acceptable’
The anti-Semitism row can be casting a shadow more than Khan’s push to become gran of London, an associated with about 8. 5 mil people.
Most Jewish voters say they have no issue with Khan himself, who stated he was disgusted simply by Livingstone’s remarks.
The Labour leadership generally needs to act far more important and swiftly when these types of comments are made, ” this individual said on Tuesday. “It can’t be right that there are Londoners of Jewish faith who have feel the Labour party is not a place on their behalf. ”
In Golders Green, where Jewish men putting on skull caps push buggies along the street past Kosher shops and restaurants that line the main highway, there is certainly real concern that the line engulfing Labour could energy prejudice in Britain.
Law enforcement figures showed an increase greater than 60 percent in anti-Semitic incidents in London last year, as the Community Security Trust, which usually advises Britain’s estimated 280, 000 Jews on protection matters, said 924 situations were recorded across the country during 2015, including 86 chaotic assaults.
Earlier this month, parliament’s Home Affairs Panel said it would hold a brief inquiry into anti-Semitism more than concerns prejudice was increasing.
In the London Judaism Family Centre in Golders Green, Denise, 61, who have declined to give her surname, said anti-Semitism in The uk had got “way worse” since she moved from South Africa four years ago.
“Six to eight weeks back I was walking across a bridge and a car ceased and the people inside known as me a bloody Jew. The 1st time ever it’s happened in my opinion in four years, inch she said.
The line has been disheartening for Jews involved in Labour politics who have support Khan’s stance.
Mike Katz, the National Vice-Chairman of the Jewish Labour Motion and a Labour applicant for the London Set up, said the expansion from about 200, 000 to about 380, 000 party members since Corbyn became leader had led to the amount of people with anti-Semitic views also increasing.
“People over modern times have found it simpler to pursue a discourse exactly where it is acceptable to say these items and blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and something which will go far further, ” this individual told Reuters.
Rabbi Pinter, who said he was embarrassed that he utilized to count Livingstone as a friend, said those in Work who denied there was a problem were part of the problem.
“People are getting concerned that this is certainly causing anti-Semitism to become popular. My concern is it could becoming acceptable, ” this individual said.

Reference

 http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.717911