Beta Israel Community Of North Shewa
The Beta Israel community of North Shewa, also known as Bal Ej, Tebiban, Morete, or Beta Avraham is a community with its origin related to the Beta Israel of Gondar. The oral history of Beta Israel describes a migration of community members to the kingdom of Shewa some 600 years ago, where craftsmen were brought over as artisan craftsmen to meet the demand of the growing kingdom. Following years of settlement, the communities underwent a period of isolation, social and economic persecution and marginalization. Furthermore, these conditions have resulted in the communities being disconnected and separated from other Ethiopian Jewish communities.
About The Program
In June 2018, Suzi Colman visited the community in Kechene and initiated a chain of events that would establish the Friends of Beta Israel North Shewa. The initial group included prominent members of the Jewish community such as Rabbi Joshua Bennett of Temple Israel and David Goldberg, a global Jewish leader.
Following several assessment visits, data collection, meetings with community leaders, the group has initiated regional development program in North Shewa. The North Shewa Development program aims to strengthen the economic capability, health and living standards of Jewish and non-Jewish communities throughout North Shewa, Amhara, Ethiopia. The activities of the program focus on capacity building for effective transformation of agricultural production, of Artisan crafts and in strengthening the identity of the Jewish Community.
What we do
The strengthening of the communities and the region starts with economic development, agricultural development. A training site has been established in Debre Berhan to initiate the building of local capacity and supporting farmers. The Agricultural programs are being implemented via CultivAid, an Israeli agricultural NGO.
In city centers a variety of artisan crafts are produced by the community which includes blacksmiths, weavers, pottery makers and leatherworkers. These products are sold and distributed throughout Ethiopia and are symbols of national pride. The programs aim to strengthen these industries, improve working conditions and income generation.
Strengthening the Beta Israel community of aims to strengthen their Jewish identity. Programs being implemented are strengthening local institutions, initiating volunteer programs and supporting the organization of the community in order for them to lead the development of their community.