On January 22, 2010, Rivers of Living Water, with funds provided by Tikvat Yacov, held a special food distribution targeting Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Although many of these Jews came to Israel almost two decades ago, they are still having trouble integrating into Israeli society. As I learned, moving to Israel in July of last year, moving from your native country, your home, to a completely different culture, especially without knowing the language upon arrival, is very difficult and frustrating. Adding to that difficulty is the fact that many of these Jews were separated from family members, many are sick or elderly and many have little education. Many of these Jews were farmers in Ethiopia, but lack the knowledge or resources for modern farming.
Centuries of anti-Semitism and war almost completely wiped out the Ethiopian Jews, who were estimated to have once numbered around 500,000. However, upon arriving in Israel, their persecution did not end, with many orthodox Jews questioning their Jewry and even calling for them to be “re-circumcised.”
Because of their History, many of these Ethiopian Jews are very skeptical of any help that is offered to them and the turn out was relatively low compared with previous efforts, with only 30, or so, families receiving food bags. Many even refused to have their picture taken by me while receiving their bags of food. However, Zechariah teaches us not to despise small beginnings, and we will continue to reach out to this community.
For more information about Ethiopian Jews, click on the links below.
A BBC News article on Ethiopian Jews:
A brief history of Ethiopian Jews:
Wikipedia article on Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel):