the Revitalization of Bete Abraham Jews in Ethiopia
By Mesfin Assefa, 2012
The history of Ethiopian Jews could be traced back to 970-930 B.C the time of King Solomon. Since then, their populations have been expanding to different parts of the country. Thus currently, Ethiopian Jews could be found in significant numbers in North Ethiopia- Gondar, Tigray and Gojjam as well as in some parts of Wollo province. In addition the Bet –Abraham Jewish Community in the Province of North Shewa, the Nefure Jewish Community in west Shewa provinces in places like kile around Wolisso district in the Guragie people and Jewish dispersed other parts of Ethiopia. It is also worth noting here that in accordance with the Aliyah law (return to their Promised Land) some 100,000 Ethiopian Jews have been allowed to immigrate to Israel over the past three decades and inherited their promised land.
This study paper doesn’t attempt to explain the history of Ethiopian Jews, which requires vast research and volumes, but in a way attempts to examine the long history of Jews migration in Ethiopia by focusing on the hidden tribes of Israel who have been living in secret in some parts of North and West Shewa province, Addis Ababa and a few other towns in Ethiopia. These people are recognized as Beta-Abraham or Beta Israel. The paper attempts to present who these people are and where and how they came to North Shewa from Gondar province where Beta-Israelis had lived for centuries. It then attempts to provide a detailed examination of the case of a specific group of Ethiopian Jews living in Addis Ababa- Kechene District and North and West Shewa. Specifically it is motivated by the questions:
Why the people of Kechene village, Addis Ababa including the people from their origin (some parts of North and West Shewa province) have isolated themselves for so long?
Why the rest of the society in Ethiopia discriminates and stigmatized them? Especially why the rest of the Society has named them “Buda“ or evil eyed people and thus untouchable?
How and why the practice and culture of these communities are mostly similar to Judaic culture and why they secretly observe this culture?
The paper also attempts to explain as to who these people are? Where they came from? What are their secreted Agendas?