Shalom Life | September 21, 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."

Hag Sameach from Israel & the IDF [VIDEO] Hag Sameach from Israel & the IDF [VIDEO] Trending‘Syrian Nelson Mandela’ Praises Israeli Aid for Wounded Syrians ‘Syrian Nelson Mandela’ Praises Israeli Aid for Wounded Syrians TrendingIranians Caught Using Fake Israeli Passports Iranians Caught Using Fake Israeli Passports Trending
 

The Ten Best Deli's in North America

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
The Ten Best Deli's in North America

Got a hankering for a smoked meat sandwich? Look no further

Read More

New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
New Study Suggests Artificial Sweeteners Harmful For Diabetics

A new study From Israel cautions diabetics to think twice about sugar substitutes

Read More

Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Daniel Radcliffe Repays His Debt to Irish Football Team Two Years Later

'The F Word' star paid back the cab fare he borrowed while partying with the team.

Read More

Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Seth Rogen Teams Up With Adam McKay and Ben Schwartz For New Film

The 'This Is The End' star will also be producing.

Read More

Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Joan Rivers Writes Forward For New Jewish Cookbook

The comedian contributed some Jewish jokes and sentiments for 'Eating Delancey: A Celebration of Jewish Food'

Read More

Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Robert Downey Jr. To Be Honored At Britannia Awards

The 'Iron Man' star will be joined by Mark Ruffalo, Judi Dench, Emma Watson, and others

Read More

James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

September 19, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
James Franco Says ‘Alien’ From ‘Spring Breakers’ is Most Relatable Character

The actor thinks that he's very similar to the corn-rowed, gun-toting character from Harmony Korine's film.

Read More

Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

September 19, 2014 | By Caitlin Marceau
Jamie Geller And Tom Franz Explore The Bible’s Superfoods

Two of Israel's most renown Kosher chefs explore biblical foods in the City of David

Read More

More Headlines