By Suzi Colman
March 7, 2019
As Dr. Malka Shabtay and I traveled to Cleveland, SE FL, and Detroit telling the story of the Beta Israel Community of N. Shewa Ethiopia, several people have asked us how they can help. We have engaged CultivAid, an Israeli NGO and an expert in determining the economic, security, health, and education needs of the community. This report should be available by June. We hope, before then, to develop person to person programs, gather donations and assist those that want to visit the community in N. Shewa. However, immediately we have identified one critical need. Two members of the Beta Israel community wish to spend time with Rabbi Gershom Sizomu from the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda. Rabbi Sizomu is a Conservative Rabbi, ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, at the American Jewish University, in Los Angles.
The cost will be $2,000 per month, for transportation and room and board, for 4 months, for of total of $8,000 for both men. They will bring back skills for building a Jewish community in N. Shewa. One day, they may formalize their training and become ordained rabbis. The two members of the Beta Israel community of N. Shewa, who have volunteered to go to Uganda are, Michael Moges Demsse, and Eldad Eshete Bekele. Here, in their own words, are the reason they want to go:
”My name is Michael Moges. I am from the Beta Israel community of Kechene, a local village in Addis Ababa. In 1996, a legal synagogue called ENSZO, was established for the practice of Judaism, with our ancestral Judaic faith traditions. At that time I was only 15, and I felt and knew, that this is the place I belong.
I started my journey to Judaism, and it took me a while before I discovered the larger Jewish community’s teachings, customs and religious beliefs in the world. It was my wish to learn and speak Hebrew that led me to the discovery of different Rabbis and their teachings, and this inspired my learning and taught me the way to live, along with all the beauty of commandments. This led me to discover more and more, for this and to live as a Jew, by fulfilling the Mitzvahs, to live up to them, and help other synagogue members fulfill the dream.
In our synagogue we have no Rabbi, and a formal way of learning Judaism. We gather knowledge and information from the internet, which is not a formal way of learning Judaism. By learning and becoming a Rabbi, I will get back to my community by leading and guiding them to the profound reality of Judaism. By becoming the first Rabbi, I will help others to fulfill their religious and spiritual obligations and in their endeavors.”
“My name is Eldad Bekele. I was born in Addis Ababa Ethiopia on June 1st in 1991. I am 27 years old. I am living in Addis Ababa and my village is Kechene, known as North Shewa Beta Israel. I started my education when I was four years old and went to a national school in 1998. Then, after I finished grade twelve, I went to a university to study my field, for three years of studies at Woliat Sodo University, I graduated in English Language and Literature. After graduation I started a job as an English teacher in a private school, where I have taught English for five years.
I was searching my identity because my friends and I were called names in high school. They called us Buda, which means evil eye, and there was a lot of discrimination. When we began to search and connect ritual from the view of Judaism, I was interested about modern Judaism then searching and asking about a lot of question about Judaism. Now I am very eager to learn more about modern Judaism. The reason that I want to learn about modern Judaism is that I will teach my synagogue members, and the community more about modern Judaism. This means a lot to me, to bridge and connect the other Jewish brothers to our community. If I could become a Rabbi or religious teacher, will be a very great chance to teach the community members with the modern teachings of Judaism.
I have a very good skills with the computer, good writing skills and good communication skills, writing short story, poems and music are some of my skills.
I am participating in the religious group to give services for High Holidays, and working in public relation for three years on now.”
If you are interested in helping to fund this need you can do so on our donation page, or contact me directly.