Dear friends, Shalom,
“A gun which appears in the first act must go off in the third…” (Chekhov).
We are now experiencing the unfortunate “third act” in the Ethiopian-Jewish saga, facing a dramatic eruption of pain and frustration. Solomon Tekah, An Ethiopian-Israeli youth, was shot and killed by a policeman, bringing thousands to the streets.
To understand where it all went wrong, one must look back, to a community living a unique, rich Jewish life in the villages of the Ethiopian plateau. There, they were always considered different, outcast, as “the other”, “the Falasha”, by their neighbors. Leading a life of sanctity, they held on to the dream of being uplifted to Jerusalem, to be reunited with their people, where they will finally belong.
Realizing the dream required of them the ultimate heroism and sacrifice. I still remember the bright, piercing eyes of the newly arrived children of Operation Moses, who came to us after crossing deserts by foot and surviving hell. We were taken by their deeply-rooted, inherent self-restraint and emotional introversion.
Before too long, in the real Israel, they discovered that they are again different. Yet the very thought that they could be viewed as outsiders in the Promised Land – of all places – was totally unexpected, unfathomable. This experience of alienation has deeply shaken the community, and recurring expressions of unthinking discrimination have carved a deep wound.
This protest is a mirror. It’s a wakeup call for us to look inwards and say that a society without solidarity is not one we want to live in. The current tragedy has opened up a painful wound that must be healed from the source. We are one human tapestry, and when someone is hurt, our entire society bleeds.
Our Ethiopian-born graduates, who by now have reached respectable positions in academia, civil service, army and even the police, are not sitting idle. I just know that each one of them is doing their utmost, bringing their positive personal example and clear judgment into the scene. One of them is the pro-bono legal representative of the family of the deceased youth.
So, the “first act” were the inspirational Operations Moses and Solomon; the “second act” was all about settling down, but not really blending in. The painful “third act” is happening now. But how the story will unfold is yet to be seen. What is clear is that we are working hand in hand with the Ethiopian-Israelis who will never give up on their forefathers’ dream. We are with them, because their dream is ours.
And here, I wish to quote a few words from a long message we just received from one of our amazing Village Way-trained educators, an Ethiopian-born, most talented teacher: “When I’m asked if I would make the whole difficult journey via Sudan again, with all that’s happening now, I answer clearly, confidently and with a sparkle of hope for the Jerusalem of Gold, just like in my childhood dreams – no question at all!
I believe and pray that just like our Aliyah, which was an incredibly difficult and unrealistic feat to accomplish, so, thanks to education and the work of good people like you, my children will have a better world to live in… Amen.”
“They who sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Shir HaMaalot).
Chaim Peri, Founder
Village Way Educational Initiatives