Above: Exterior image of The World Beat Cultural Center located in Balboa Park.
The story of Ethiopia’s forgotten Jews and their journey from Gondar, Ethiopia to Jerusalem will be featured in a retrospective photographic art exhibit called, “It Takes a Village: From Gondar to Jerusalem – The Remarkable Journey of Ethiopia’s Jews” at the World Beat Cultural Center December 6-13, 2012.
The opening night celebration on December 6, 2012 features 36 powerful photos that document the journey of the now 120,000 Ethiopian Jews living in Israel, free Ethiopian food, drinks, traditional music and the personal story of Ethiopian Jewish woman and artist and jewelry maker Riki Mullu.
Riki Mullu, a good will ambassador for Ethiopia and Israel, emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel at age 12 through Operation Begin, an early top-secret effort organized by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Riki, part of a group of 150 refugees - the lone representative from her family.
Since that time, her entire family has re-located to Israel – her parents, 8 siblings and 45 nieces and nephews. She returned to Ethiopia to help more Jewish Africans make the journey. She now travels between New York, Jerusalem and Ethiopia where she creates jewelry, bold bright pieces using Ethiopian silver, bronze and an array of natural stones and beads. In 1984 the Jewish Agency began helping the first major wave of Ethiopian immigration to Israel with Operation Moses and continued in 1991 with Operation Solomon.
Today, Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant population is estimated at 120,000 – 15,000 of them children born in Israel. In December 2010, the State of Israel appointed the Jewish Agency to complete the immigration of Ethiopia’s approximately 8,000 remaining Jews (the Falash Mura) from the poverty, anti-Semitism, disease and instability characterizing life in Africa to a better life among their people, in Israel.
The challenge today is absorbing these new immigrants – many of whom are illiterate and unfamiliar with Western life – into Israeli society. The current plan is to conclude Ethiopian Jewish immigration to Israel by 2014.