The religious practices of the Beta Israel Communities of North Shewa are centered around Gedams. These compounds serve as a type of monastery, providing spiritual centers that are a home for the aged and orphans while serving as the center of ceremonies. The residents of the Gedam live a communal life and together conduct their daily work. At holidays and special occasions, the Beta Israel community from nearby villages, from Debre Berhan and from Addis gather at the Gedam and celebrate together.
Today, there are around 15 Gedams, spread throughout North Shewa. The Gedams share the same religious rituals but are physically and socially separated and also differ by their socio-economic status. The Gedams own lands in their areas and in some there are the production of agricultural products and craft but they are mainly dependent on donations from the community and from outer sources.
Gedams are the spiritual backbone of the community, and their survival assures strengthening of the community, heritage and local identity. The leaders of the Gedams have requested assistance in raising the living standards at the Gedams and utilizing these centers for uplifting the social and economic well-being of the surrounding community.
Although it is relatively close to Debra Berhan, the Gedam is extremely Isolated, hard to reach, purely supported by the communities in the area, and lacks sufficient economic or self-sustaining resources.
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Currently, the Gedam produces and distributes small amounts of Tala (traditional local beer brewed from various grains) which is generated in the grinding room in an area close to the Gedam (see below) and grows grains and vegetables in fields down the hill.
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