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Discovering my Ethiopian family... twice!


Hello Internet!

This blog post is long overdue. I am going to be talking about two thing this time, both of which are very important to my heart ❤. The first, is regarding an email that I received.

It told me that they had found a family for me to sponsor, and I clicked on the pictures, with shaking hands, you will not believe how nervous I was, and saw the family that I was supporting. I couldn’t believe the photos. It seems so much more real, when you don’t just get a name and age, but a picture of the person that you are helping. There’s an old Jewish saying, that I learnt about at my Bat Mitzvah classes, that tells that if you look at someone, whether it be in a photograph, or a charity advert, or a homeless person on the street, if you see their face, if you look into their eyes, you become responsible for them. And that’s how I felt looking at that photo of my twinned family. It all became that much more real, that much more, wow. I’m actually doing this in that moment. And I’m so glad that happened, because if I am responsible for these people, I’m sure as heck going to fight for them.

There are seven of them. The parents, and five kids. Now, I’m one of four, but I can’t imagine having more than three siblings, our house already seems full to the brim. But seven people, living in one tiny building seems completely alien to my way of life.

The parents are hardworking people who came to Gondar in order to go to Israel. When they found out that they couldn’t, they decided to stay in Gondar, and had Mulugeta, (who’s the 12 year old boy I’m sponsoring), along with his four siblings, his 17-year-old brother, his 14-year-old sister, his 9-year-old sister, and his 7-year-old brother. I looked over the report, to find that I also had a 13-year-old sister, 9-year-old sister, an 8-year-old brother. The ages were so close, that we practically have the same siblings, with the exception of the eldest. I realize how our family situations, though similar in members, couldn’t be more different in lifestyle, yet I felt like this connected us somehow. Call me crazy, but the our two families are so alike!

The second thing that I would like to address, is what I promised you last entry; My Ethiopian Heritage. My grandma emailed me a few weeks ago with information on my great grandfather’s great-grandmother. It said:

Apparently my great-grandfather on my dad's side was a trader who traveled to Africa and had been in Ethiopia and met the most beautiful Amhara Ethiopian woman in a very prosperous family from a Jewish Ethiopian tribe. The Amharic tradition followed the teaching of the Torah but had no memory of post-Temple destruction and therefore no rabbinical memory. They kept Shabbat and followed the Jewish dietary laws within Torah. They followed the lunar calendar and had some of the same festivals. He married her and brought her home to Baghdad. Apparently she was exceptionally beautiful. They needed a further marriage ceremony when he came home.

Wow, I had absolutely no idea of any of this, another reason to be glad that I did this. My Ethiopian heritage is something I never knew beforehand, and now I have yet another personal connection to Mulugeta, and his family.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back next time, after my Bat Mitzvah, to tell you how it went! So I guess that this is the end, until next time.

Signing off,

-Ellie

#batmitzva #ethiopia #ethiopianjews

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