When she was a child, human rights activist and educator Dr. Shula Mola and her family fled Ethiopia for Israel. As they and other members of the Beta Israel Ethiopian Jewish community embarked on this harrowing journey through Sudan, Dr. Mola dreamed of their goal—a return to Jerusalem, and reuniting in community with other Jews at the Beit HaMikdash (holy temple) in Jerusalem.
The gap between the dream and the reality of coming to the State of Israel as refugees was massive and often deeply traumatic. Dr. Mola, now a post-doctoral fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University focusing on preserving and elevating Ethiopian Jewry in Israel, joins The Vibe of the Tribe for an important episode on a unique community in the Jewish diaspora. Looking back at that time from her current vantage point, she discusses what happened when her community’s self-perception and identity encountered the realities of Israeli society, and the ongoing struggle the Beta Israel have faced to be “recognized” as part of the Jewish people by the rabbinical establishment—despite practicing Judaism for thousands of years.
Tune in to hear Dr. Mola’s riveting personal narrative and illuminating overview of the issues the Beta Israel community faces. As the co-founder of Mothers on Guard, a group of mothers that protests police brutality against youth of Ethiopian origin, Dr. Mola discusses fighting for her community and how the discourse around race in Israel differs from that in America. Dr. Mola also shares how aspects of the Beta Israel community’s traditions, like the post-Yom Kippur holiday of Sigd, are finally being officially recognized in Israel and what it means for Beta Israel inclusion.
Dr. Mola will also be speaking on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m. about the struggle of Ethiopian Jews in Israel for “normality” and the variety of ways to deal with exclusion and racism. Register for the event, hosted by Temple Emunah, CJP and Schusterman Center for Israel Studies: https://www.jewishboston.com/events/i-am-completely-normal-the-struggle-of-ethiopian-israelis
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Produced by Miriam Anzovin and edited by Miriam Anzovin and Jesse Ulrich, with music by Ryan J. Sullivan.