Paying tribute to Ethiopian Jews who didn’t make it

The Student Union of Hebrew University invited the public to hear the testimonies of those who survived the journey and lost loved ones in Sudan on the way.

June 2, 2016 01:29
1 minute read.
Ethiopian Jews

Members of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel mark the holiday of Sigd in Jerusalem November 20, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Some 150 people attended a remembrance ceremony for Ethiopian Jews who died on their way to Israel at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem Wednesday.

For the fourth year, the Student Union of the university invited the public to hear the testimonies of those who survived the journey and lost loved ones in Sudan on the way.

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The ceremony was attended by Qes Samai Elias, the CEO of the National Council of Ethiopian Jewish Priests in Israel; David Yaso, director of the Absorption of Ethiopian Jewry at the Immigrant Absorption Ministry; Amy Palmer, director-general of the Justice Ministry; and former Yesh Atid MK Shimon Solomon.

Bat-El Tegegen, the organizer of the event and a social activist, told The Jerusalem Post that the main goal of the ceremony is to raise awareness about those who didn’t survive the rough journey to Israel.

“Most Israelis don’t know about the struggles along the way Ethiopian Jews had to go through,” she said. “This ceremony is all about commemorating the remembrance of the men, women and children who died the Sudanese desert.”

Tegegen also expressed her disappointment about the place of the Ethiopian community remembrance among other national commemorations.

“It seems that the Ethiopian memory is being marginalized,” she said, “but as times go by it seems that more and more people start to understand the proportion of the tragedy.”

Approximately 4,000 members of the Ethiopian community lost their lives en route to Israel.

On Sunday, Israel will observe the Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel, and a national ceremony will be held at the memorial site on Mount Herzl.

In 2004 the government decided that a national memorial ceremony would be held each year on Jerusalem Day, to acknowledge the long-held desire of Ethiopian Jewry to get to Jerusalem.

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