Surviving Salvation: The Ethiopian Jewish Family in Transition

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On May 25, 1991, a Boeing 747 packed with over 1,000 Ethiopians left the besieged capital of Addis Ababa for Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. In the next 36 hours, 13,000 more Ethiopians were to depart for Israel in what became known as Operation Solomon. After generations of praying and years of diplomatic wrangling, Ethiopia's Jews were at last going to the Promised Land.

In the last twelve years, 40,000 Ethiopian Jews have left their native land and emigrated to Israel. Rarely in human history has an entire community been transplanted in such a short period from one civilization to another.

This is not a book about the journey of the Ethiopian Jews; rather, it is a chronicle of their experiences once they reached their destination. The focus of this work is the crucial issue of family life, examining how the personal relationships of the Ethiopian Jews are being radically transformed as they become assimilated into Israeli society. Thrust from isolated villages without electricity or running water into the urban bustle of modern, post-industrial society, they have seen their marriages challenged by the ongoing redefinition of gender and roles, their children increasingly Westernized, and their specific practice of Judaism closely scrutinized. This engrossing and handsomely illustrated volume is the tale of their struggle and the emotional saga of their experiences in the Promised Land.

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Editorial Reviews

Describes the social and psychological trauma of the 13,000 Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel in May 1991: the dissolution of families and centuries-old communities; the transition from dusty villages to big cities; the altered domestic roles as men become dependent on charity, women are encouraged to work outside the home, and children plunge into an alien culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814792537
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 164
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who emigrated to Israel as a seventeen year-old orphan, is an Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University. Widely known as Dr. Ruth, the host of a variety of television and radio shows, she is the driving force behind a one-hour documentary on the Beta Israel, the author of five books, and has taught at Adelphi University, Columbia University, and West Point.

Dr. Steven Kaplan is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion and African Studies and Chair of the African Studies Department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of The Beta Israel (Falasha) in Ethiopia: From Earliest Times to the Twentieth Century, also published by New York University Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 From Falasha to Ethiopian Jews 13
Ch. 2 Strangers in the Promised Land 35
Ch. 3 Between Parent and Child: A Generation of the Wilderness? 59
Ch. 4 Changing Gender Roles 79
Ch. 5 Families in Crisis 103
Ch. 6 People and Programs 119
Glossary 139
Selected Bibliography 141
Index 143
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