Since the arrival of the Ethiopian Jews in Israel, the community has been exposed to a western culture entirely different from that which they once knew. Integrating into Israeli life while retaining their cultural heritage has always been a struggle.
The integral values of Ethiopian culture including sustainability, family and community have been challenged. As a result, leadership has lost all authority, the familiar family structure has been tested, unemployment rates are increasingly on the rise and the inter-generational gap has widened.
Developing a sustainable Ethiopian village
Located in Kiryat Gat, the Atachlit Beta Israel Village serves as a heritage centre for the preservation and endowment of Ethiopian Jewish culture.
JNF is supporting the development of the village with the building of traditional mud Gojo houses, herb Greenhouses and the purchasing of plants and seeds. Through this project, the Ethiopian traditional lifestyle of farming, building and cooking methods can continue to be practiced.
The elders of the village, once farmers and community leaders in Ethiopia, have had difficulty finding their place in Israel’s modern urban society.
The farm offers them a new sense of purpose and belonging and their knowledge is once again in demand, providing them with a source of income and cultural enrichment. Their encounter with nature and the outdoor agricultural work reminds them of village life in Ethiopia and gives them the strength to continue to cope with the complex realities of life in Israel.
So too, the establishment of these villages allows the elders to share their traditions and heritage, passing on their agricultural and processing methods to the next generation.
A greater acceptance
Younger members of the community who visit the site can get in touch with their parents’ traditions, allowing them to find their roots and integrate into Israeli society from a position of strength and self-confidence.
For the general public, this is an opportunity to come into contact with the culture of the Jews of Ethiopia, which has been almost completely neglected since their arrival in Israel.
The village is becoming an educational and agricultural attraction for groups from Israel and abroad. Guided tours of the site include lectures, craft workshops and a whole host of other activities for the entire family, providing the opportunity to overcome prejudice.
Finding their roots
With your help, JNF is helping Ethiopian Jews find their roots in agriculture, strengthen their sense of self-worth as well as exposing the general Israeli public to Ethiopian culture.