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Chabad of Hunterdon to Host ‘Shabbat in Ethiopia’ on March 24


On Friday, March 24th, Chabad of Hunterdon County (New Jersey) will host an Ethiopian themed Shabbat dinner, as part of their “Shabbat around the world” series. The dinner will accompany guest speaker Avishai Mekonen, who will present his story of the brutal kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan, during his Ethiopian community’s exodus out of Africa.

A kosher Ethiopian themed Shabbat dinner will be served, followed by the presentation. Space in limited and reservations are encouraged.

Yeganyahu Avishai Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses, and has worked as a photographer and filmmaker on projects investigating issues of race and identity.

“400 Miles to Freedom,” a documentary film, is about Avishai’s dangerous journey from Ethiopia to Israel, then to the United States. In 1984, the Beta Israel-a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains-began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then 10 years old, was among them. In the film, he breaks his 20-year silence about the kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan. This life-defining event launches an inquiry into identity, leading him to African, Asian, and Latino Jews in Israel and the United States.

Avishai’s other work includes Seven Generations, a photography and video installation that offers a view into an ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition, and a section of Avishai Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb’s documentary film project, “Judaism and Race,” which is part of “The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography” that originated at the Jewish Museum, NYC, and has traveled to the Skirball Museum, L.A. and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

This is the fifth Shabbaton in Chabad of Hunterdon’s serious for the year. The final event in this series, “Shabbat Under the Stars,” will take place in May. All events are open to the public and all are welcome, regardless of background or affiliation.