The History of Ethiopian Jewry

Piecing together legends and stories.

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Faitlovich's work on behalf of the Beta Israel community came to a dramatic halt with the Italian invasion of  Ethiopia in1935-6. Under fascist rule, it became forbidden to practice Judaism in Ethiopia.

Some of Faitlovitch's work was undeniably controversial--he created a schism dividing the young, westernized leaders he chose from the elders of the rural communities. But, until the 1960s, no one but Faitlovitch took such a dedicated interest in the community, invested in it financially and educationally, and visited with such regularity. Moreover, it was the letters that Faitlovitch brought to Ethiopia from Kook and other contemporary Jewish leaders that allowed the Beta Israel to cling to their hopes of returning to the Promised Land, and, decades later, for world Jewry to readily accept them.

Photo courtesy of Christophe Cagé.

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Atira Winchester

Atira Winchester is a journalist who worked for many years as an editor for The Jerusalem Post. She currently lives in London, England where she works as a freelance writer, specializing in arts, culture and contemporary Israeli life.