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Ethiopian Jews settling in Israel

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Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:31 PM
Subject: "Bahalachin"
from Yigal Kahana

Dear Carl,

Hello. Thanks for calling, it was a great surprise to hear from you. About the idea we discussed on the phone:

Why don't we arrange a fundraiser for "Bahalachin", the Israeli non-profit dedicated to preserving the traditional Ethiopian-Israeli culture and identity. (Bahalachin is an Amharic word that means "our culture") Bahalachin is in dire need of funds to continue operating, and by helping them through the next year, we will be helping them to perform historic work. Bahalachin has many projects, including: a family counseling program administered by community elders, with the cooperation of the Chief Rabbinate; a project for inputting a complete oral tradition of genealogies into a computer database; a museum of the Ethiopian Jewish community to be built in Jerusalem; a band of performers who preserve the Amharic-language musical tradition of Ethiopian Jewry; a project for recording prayers in the ancient language of Ge'ez; adjustment classes for those who have recently been moved out of Absorption centers, into regular apartments; a collection of artifacts regularly requested by other organizations who want to arrange Ethiopian-Israeli related events; and an English language and identity program for high-school students (picture of students, attached).

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Supporting "Bahalachin" means supporting the traditional Ethiopian Jewish culture, and is one of the most efficient and effective ways we can encourage the Ethiopian-Israeli community, in the next decade, to grow strong and well-adjusted.

I could bring video (DVD), objets d'art, an Ethiopian Israeli guest-speaker, and, depending on timing, even the Bahalachin Tradition Ensemble (pictures, attached). The Ensemble will probably be here in September, and maybe in March. I should know within a couple of weeks.

If you wanted me to speak, I could speak about the history and traditional culture of Ethiopian Jewry, the significance of their achievements, their current status in Israel, and outlook for the future. Having traveled to Israel five times in the last year, I can illustrate my points with many observations, stories, and pictures.

If you need anything further, please let me know. Thanks for all your interest and help,


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comment from Carl: I was reminded of this by Dr. Wissink's brief discussion of Ethopian Jews migrating to Israel in his March 12 lecture. So, another conversation with Yigal and we announced the following:

St. Gregory's Episcopal Church will host an ensemble of Ethiopian Jews from Israel on Saturday evening, April 1, at 8:30 pm. The Bahalachin Ensemble represents the musical heritage of nearly three thousand years of Jews living in North Africa (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia). Bahalachin, the organization that created the ensemble, is the only official non-profit in Israel whose mission is the preservation of traditional Ethiopian culture and identity. They are touring south Florida under sponsorship of The Broward County Jewish Federation Foundation.

Our hope is that this event will appeal to the Jewish and Christian Communities in Boca Raton and that it will serve as an opportunity for people of faith to come together for an evening of education, culture and mutual friendship.

St. Gregory's Episcopal Church,
100 N.E. Mizner Blvd.,
Boca Raton,
in our community center on the East Side of the Church, Harris Hall.
(driving instructions: I-95 north or south to Palmetto Park Road, east to Mizner Boulevard (first light east of US 1), north one block to the church.)

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