Shalom Life | April 19, 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."

Pro-Russians Handing Out Pamphlets Ordering Jews to 'Register' or Face Deportation Pro-Russians Handing Out Pamphlets Ordering Jews to 'Register' or Face Deportation TrendingTel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet' Tel Aviv Named 'Best Beach Party Spot on Planet' TrendingMeet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars Meet the Israelis Looking to Arrive on Mars Trending
 

James Franco’s Ex-Manager Sued for Embezzling Money From the Actor

April 18, 2014 | By Sarah Bauder
James Franco’s Ex-Manager Sued for Embezzling Money From the Actor

James Levy is being sued by his former partners at James Levy Management

Read More

James Franco and Idina Menzel Set For Easter Bonnet Competition

April 18, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
James Franco and Idina Menzel Set For Easter Bonnet Competition

Franco and Menzel join Bryan Cranston, Fran Drescher and others at the event benefitting AIDS.

Read More

Spielberg’s Latest Project: A Film About a Jew Who Becomes a Priest

April 18, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Spielberg’s Latest Project: A Film About a Jew Who Becomes a Priest

The 'Schindler's List' director joins 'The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara'

Read More

Jewish Top 10s: Bible Movies

April 18, 2014 | By Zak Edwards
Jewish Top 10s: Bible Movies

In honor of Passover, we look at some of the best feature films that reinterpret stories from the Bible

Read More

Emotional Pain Isn't Just in Your Head

April 18, 2014 | By Abigail Klein Leichman
Emotional Pain Isn't Just in Your Head

A new Israeli-US study provides breakthrough in understanding the brain mechanisms that cause physical pain resulting from depression

Read More

A Children's Haggadah Made By Children [VIDEO]

April 18, 2014 | By Ynet News
A Children's Haggadah Made By Children [VIDEO]

Created by students of Rav Elio Toaff nursery school in Rome, 'cheerful Haggadah' is specially made for other children, not only Jewish

Read More

Italian Politician Mocks Primo Levi Holocaust Poem

April 18, 2014 | By Graham Sigurdson
Italian Politician Mocks Primo Levi Holocaust Poem

Beppe Grillo, head of an anti-establishment movement, released the parody on his blog that Jewish activists have labelled an 'obscenity'

Read More

Jeremy Diamond: The Most Harmless Stalker Around

April 18, 2014 | By Jordan Mazza
Jeremy Diamond: The Most Harmless Stalker Around

We talk to the famous personal injury lawyer about advertisements, that photo of him and Rob Ford, and more

Read More

More Headlines