Shalom Life | September 30, 2014

First Seder in the Homeland

Falash Mura celebrate Pesach in Israel

By: Sarah Bronson

Published: April 12th, 2012 in News » World

First Seder in the Homeland

The little girls stood on stage holding up a child's painting of the Ten Commandments, quietly but confidently singing "Who Knows One," the traditional Passover song about Jewish icons such as the Five Books of Moses, the Four Matriarchs, the Three Patriarchs, the two Tablets that Moses brought from Mount Sinai, and the One-ness of God.

It could have been a scene from any number of school Passover presentations, but these children were new immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia, demonstrating their Jewish knowledge for family members who, with them, are about to celebrate their first Passover in Israel.

On the first night of Pesach, an estimated 5,500 members of the "Falash Mura," the extended family members of Ethiopia's Jewish community, will held Seders together in absorption centers throughout Israel, sponsored by The Jewish Agency and by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. In groups, they celebrated both Passover and their new lives in Israel, for the first time using a Hebrew Haggadah – and, in many cases, experiencing their very first Seder.

To prepare, the olim (immigrants to Israel) held Model Seders in each absorption center, including the one in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion. With its apartment units stretching out for blocks – punctuated by playgrounds and communal buildings such as a library and auditorium – the Mevaseret Zion absorption complex is by far the largest of The Jewish Agency's 22 such centers, including 16 that cater specifically to new olim from Ethiopia.

Among the dignitaries who greeted the immigrants were Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel; Lieutenant Colonel Zion Shankur, the highest-ranking Ethiopian in the Israel Defense Forces; Ambassador Belaynesh Zevadia, Israel's first Ethiopia-born ambassador; and prominent Ethiopian-Israeli singer-songwriter Maski Shabiro, who entertained the group of approximately 100 immigrants with a heartfelt rendition of an Ethiopian folksong.

In fluent Hebrew accented heavily in Russian, Sharansky related his memories of making a Seder while imprisoned in Siberia, using water instead of wine, and bread instead of matzah ("because what can you do"), and reciting as much of the Haggadah as he could from memory. Later, after his release and his own immigration to Israel, he flew to Ethiopia to escort a group of Jews there on their own flight home.

"I didn't understand a word anyone said," he remembered, "but when the pilot announced that we were over Jerusalem, everyone cried 'Yerusalem! Yerusalem!' and I realized I was part of a modern-day exodus, the return of Jews from every direction – toward Jerusalem."

Jewish Anti-Israel Group Stage Blood Bucket Challenges Around Israel [VIDEO] Jewish Anti-Israel Group Stage Blood Bucket Challenges Around Israel [VIDEO] TrendingNetanyahu Meets Beyoncé in New J Street Campaign Netanyahu Meets Beyoncé in New J Street Campaign TrendingLady Gaga: The World View of Israel is Just Not Reality Lady Gaga: The World View of Israel is Just Not Reality Trending
 

The Love Jewce: Jewvangelist

September 30, 2014 | By Andria Kaplan
The Love Jewce: Jewvangelist

A look at the popular web-series that tells the story of a female rabbi in LA trying to keep her synagogue alive

Read More

Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Animated in Blo Ad

September 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Gwyneth Paltrow Gets Animated in Blo Ad

The GOOP blogger has teamed up with celebrity hairstylist David Babaii

Read More

Netflix and Weinstein Co. Team Up For ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel

September 30, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Netflix and Weinstein Co. Team Up For ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel

This will be the streaming services first foray into feature film production.

Read More

Shatner, Nimoy to 'Star' in New Volkswagen Ads

September 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Shatner, Nimoy to 'Star' in New Volkswagen Ads

The 'Star Trek' actors have confirmed their involvement in the company's new campaign for the e-Golf

Read More

Neo-Nazi Group Distributes anti-Semitic Flyers, Wants "Jews Out of Australia"

September 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Neo-Nazi Group Distributes anti-Semitic Flyers, Wants "Jews Out of Australia"

An Australian neo-Nazi group is distributing flyers in Sydney, again, that refer to Jews as the "world's foremost problem"

Read More

Jewish Anti-Israel Group Stage Blood Bucket Challenges Around Israel [VIDEO]

September 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Jewish Anti-Israel Group Stage Blood Bucket Challenges Around Israel [VIDEO]

The group "Jews Against Genocide" visited sites around Israel, including Yad Vashem, to protest Israeli policies

Read More

Netanyahu (Accurately) Compares Iran to Derek Jeter During UN Address

September 30, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Netanyahu (Accurately) Compares Iran to Derek Jeter During UN Address

"To say that Iran doesn't practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees"

Read More

Israeli Airlines May Introduce In-Flight WiFi

September 30, 2014 | By Itay Blumental
Israeli Airlines May Introduce In-Flight WiFi

El Al, Israir and Arkia can now allow passengers to use portable electronic devices throughout flight without switching to "airplane mode"

Read More

More Headlines