Foto Friday – Ethiopia – Land of Wonders

February 1, 2013 - 6:23 PM by

The ties between the Land of Israel and Ethiopia are as old as the Bible itself from the marriage of Moses to a woman from the land of Cush (Numbers 12:1) to the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13).

Whether or not that visit resulted in a son named Menelik, as is the tradition of Ethiopian Jews, or whether Judaism arrived in Ethiopia later, what is certain is that this is the oldest Diaspora community practicing a Torah Judaism that pre-dates Rabbinic Judaism.

A new exhibit opening February 15, 2013at the Eretz Israel Museum, presents the story of the Beta Israel community – the Jews of Ethiopia – concentrating of their ties with Jerusalem up until the point at which the community emigrated to the modern State of Israel.

Men, women and children descending the mountain after the Sigd Prayers. Ambober, Gondar Region, Ethiopia 1956.
Eretz-Israel-Museum_Ethiopia_descent from mountain
Photo: Yehuda Sivan, Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Jewish Agency), Beit Hatfutsot Photo Archive

The synagogue in Wallaka, Gondar district, 1984.
Photo: Doron Bacher, Beit Hatfutsot Photo Archive

Two women carrying water from the river, Ethiopia, 1984.
Photograph: Joan Roth, New York / Beit Hatfutsot Photo Archive

Views of “Revolution Square” in Addis Ababa. Portraits of Marx, Engels and Lenin, 1984.
Eretz-Israel-Museum_Ethiopia_revolution sqare
Photo: Doron Bacher, Beit Hatfutsot Photo Archive

Curator Sara Turel writes, “For over two thousand years Ethiopia was ruled by dynasties and it is rare both in Africa and the world for there to be three monotheistic religions living side by side with mutual influences… the first Muslims in Ethiopia were refugees from Mecca, persecuted by the pagan Arabs… According to Ethiopian tradition, about half the population of [the norther city of Axum], before the arrival of Christianity, was Jewish.”

Life of St. George by Bishop Theodotus and The Miracles of St. George, manuscript, parchment, Ge’ez; 18th century
Photo: Leonid Padrul, Roni Ferber collection, Tel Aviv.

The exhibition comprises selected work of art, ritualistic artifacts and costumes, illustrated manuscripts, music, musical instruments, cartography, photographs, ethnography, documentaries, etc.

Also featured are contemporary photographs by Aida Muluneh, chief curator of the Contemporary Art Museum in Addis Ababa.

Aida Muluneh, Boys and green wall, Gondar, 2008
Eretz-Israel-Museum_Ethiopia_Aida Muluneh
Photo: Aida Muluneh

For more information about Ethiopia, Land of Wonders exhibition visit the Eretz Israel Museum website.


2 Comments on Foto Friday – Ethiopia – Land of Wonders

  1. Gerald Gotzen on Thu, Feb 7th 2013 12:44 PM
  2. Wonderful article and photographs! Ethiopia is the land of history, mystery and
    beautiful scenery with a 3.000 year connection to Israel from the time of the Queen of
    Sheba and King Solomon – 1 Kings 1:1-13.
    Every Israeli, if possible, should visit Ethiopia making the journey by plane over the Red Sea. The climate is ideal, the country is safe, the people are friendly, the historical locations are magnificent – the Blue Nile Falls, the obelisks of Axum, the castles of Gondar and the monolithic churches of Lalibela (probably built with the help of the Jews of Bugana), and the price is right!
    And of course there is the Israeli Ambassador in Addis Ababa who is Ethiopian -
    charming and intelligent.
    I have been associated with Ethiopia for nearly 50 years and am responsible arrange Medical Missions where in a week nearly 10.000 patients are treated.

  3. runabra on Sat, Feb 9th 2013 8:34 AM
  4. Nice artilce, reminds me of home!!1

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