In 1984, in an unprecedented act of brotherhood, Israel airlifted thousands of persecuted and starving Ethiopian Jews from Africa to Israel. They had been waiting in Ethiopia for millennia, sustained by the hope to return home to the Holy Land.
Among the refugees was an 8-year-old boy, Danny Adeno Abebe. Now an Israeli journalist, Abebe tells the story of his family and his village, and the journey they traveled from Ethiopia through Sudan to Israel, and the even longer distance from a rural village life without indoor plumbing, electricity, or books, to a modern society. Many who left the villages did not survive the hardships of the journey, and many of those who did reach the Promised Land were emotionally wounded in the process.
Immigrants in all times and places struggle with loss. They struggle to understand and adapt to their new country, to find a way to fit in, and to expand their identity to incorporate the old and the new. But few must leap a cultural gap as wide as that which this group faced.
In his new country, Adeno Abebe encountered rejection as well as embrace. He experienced both astonishing support and appalling prejudice. As he matured, he recognized that both attitudes exist among his former countrymen in Africa, as well.
From Africa To Zion (Miskal, 2021) is an extraordinary life story, but above all—it is a story about people, about love, and about the importance of family, regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a psychologist, writer, Middle East television commentator and host of The New Books Network’s Van Leer Jerusalem Series on Ideas. Write her at [email protected]
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