Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Mishpacha Junior Speaks to an Ethiopian Immigrant

Shira Yehudit Djalilmand

“Leah” is a member of the Beta Israel, the Ethiopian tribe claiming Jewish descent. Today, she is grown-up and lives in Eretz Yisrael as a Torah-observant Jew. Mishpacha Junior asked her about her childhood inEthiopia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ethiopian kidsMJ: Hi, Leah. Can you describe where you lived in Ethiopia?

Leah: I grew up in Matcha, a village in Gondar, where most of the Beta Israel lived. You can’t imagine how beautiful it was — like Gan Eden! So green, the river running through our backyard, trees to climb, and mountains looming in the distance. We grew everything we needed – fruit, corn, wheat, humus, paprika. Our village was like one big family, all helping each other and sharing simchahs. There was great emphasis on kibud horim and modesty, humility, and politeness.

MJ: What was the daily life of the village like?

Leah: We lived far from the other Ethiopians, as they weren’t too fond of the Jews. There were no roads — any traveling was done either on foot or on donkeys. When the villagers needed to go to the town to buy staples such as coffee and sugar, we would travel for half a day by foot, load up our purchases on our heads, and make the long trek home.

There was a strong sense of community — togetherness. The men worked in the fields, while the women prepared food for them. First, all the men in the village would work on one field, and then they would move on to someone else’s field. There were no tractors or plows, just hand-made tools and donkeys. After the harvest, we would gather in the evening to sing and dance.

The men also helped build each other’s homes — huts made of mud and stones. The river was the center of our lives, we used it for everything — washing, bathing, and laundry. We had no electricity. We lit a fire in our homes for cooking and heating in the winter. My mother would grind a type of seed, tif, into flour and bake injera, thin pancake-like bread, on the fire. We would eat it with waat, a spicy sauce made with meat, beans, and paprika — delicious!


Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"