Five Days With the Jewish Children of Ethiopia

Five Days With the Jewish Children of Ethiopia Dalia Hartstein teaches Ethiopia's Jewish children some Hebrew songs (PHOTO: Atlanta Jewish Times)

Israeli volunteers, Dalia Hartstein and her friend Adi, experience in Ethiopian with Jewish children in Gondar’s Falash Mura Jews

By Dalia Hartstein (Atlanta Jewish Times) |

In August I flew to Ethiopia with my friend Adi to volunteer with the Jewish community in Gondar for five days. We joined 10 Israeli post-army volunteers who ran a camp for the kids in the compound throughout the summer.

Gondar is a village in Ethiopia with one paved road, mud houses and animals wandering the streets. Gondar has 5,000 Falash Mura Jews waiting to make aliyah. Many have been waiting for years, and some have immediate family in Israel.

More than 1,000 children of all ages attended the camp in the Jewish compound, which consists of outdoor benches and several “rooms” divided by corrugated metal walls. Many of the walls are painted with Stars of David, and there is a large area where they pray three times a day.

From 8 to 11 each morning we ran activities for the youngest kids, approximately 50 of them who were around 6 years old. We were joined by a talented 52-year-old Israeli volunteer who used to be a pre-K teacher and three Ethiopian teenagers, who translated and helped us manage the kids.

We taught them a bunch of songs in Hebrew, along with hand motions that corresponded to the words, danced with them, and did other activities. Adi and I had an amazing time. They were so cute and well-behaved. They waited patiently for their turns and sat right back down when we asked them.

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Ethiopia News, Falash Mura Jews, Dalia Hartstein