Idan Raichel 311.
(photo credit: Last.fm)
When President Shimon Peres visited the Reishit School in Jerusalem last week to
speak out against racial discrimination and to assure those students of
Ethiopian background that Israel was glad to have them, he was emotionally
overcome by his meeting with the bright, inquisitive youngsters.
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particularly taken by a fourth-grader by the name of Rachel who is a soloist in
the school choir. The sparkle in her eyes inspired him to write a poem called
The Eyes of Beta Israel. The poem succinctly tells the saga of Ethiopian Jewry.
Peres worked on the poem for several days and then got in touch with singer,
songwriter and musician Idan Raichel and asked him to compose the music that
would turn the poem into a song.
Raichel, whose concerts frequently
include singers and musicians of Ethiopian background, was more than happy to
take on the assignment, and on Thursday night, the song debuted at his concert
at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
Peres is outraged by
growing incidents of racism, and has said at every opportunity that Israelis
ought to be ashamed for allowing racism to sully society.
relationship between Peres and Israel’s community of Ethiopian background goes
back to January 1985, when as prime minister he authorized the airlift of
Ethiopian Jews that has gone down in history as Operation Moses.
his presidency he has hosted several events that demonstrate what Ethiopian
immigrants have given to Israel in the fields of medicine, defense, theater,
journalism, social work and music.