From Ethiopia to Israel:

The Unofficial Story


Sunday, April 18

Finland 8:30 pm


The talk will last approximately 90 minutes

About this talk

The Beta Israel, also known as Ethiopian Jews, lived for centuries in northern and north-western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory. During the 19th and 20th centuries they suffered religious persecution. The Beta Israel made contact with other Jewish communities in the later 20th century, and most of the community immigrated to Israel.

Usually, when thinking about this "Aliyah" (immigration) from Ethiopia we think about the great operations of the State of Israel, the IDF, and the Mossad that took place in 1984 and 1991. This narrative highlights the powerful story of the gathering of the exiles and the heroism of the State. In this lecture, we will highlight the story of the people itself, the Ethiopian community, that struggled for recognition and citizenship from Israel, and the ways in which it has been denied its own voice for almost 30 years. 

By engaging with their story we will also learn about the identity, strengths, and activism of a community with a unique way of life and traditions.

About Efrat

Efrat Yerday was born in Ashdod and lives in Tel Aviv. She is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Tel Aviv University, the chairwoman of the Association for Ethiopian Jews and a fellow in Human Rights and Judaism program of The Israel Democracy Institute. She also has a master's degree in Political Science from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

In 2015, she initiated and prepared an academic course in the university's Department of Politics and Government. The course, Black Identity in a White Space: The Ethiopian Population in the Israeli Context, was part of the Program for Specialization in Politics until 2017. She also taught this course as part of the programme of Jewish Studies for working people at the Ono Academic College.

She established the Ra'av (Hunger) publishing house in Beersheba with the aim of adding color to the Israeli bookshelf. She edited its first book of translated poetry, Kushila'imashelahem-Antologia zmanit leshira shekhora (Kushila'imashelahem-A temporary anthology of black poetry).

In 2010 she started the Young Ethiopian Students blog, inviting critical thinking and challenging the establishment and academic narrative of the Aliya (immigration) and absorption of Ethiopian Jews.

In 2020 she won the New Israel award "Galanter Prize- Guardians of Democracy", and today she frequently writes for "Haaretz".

With the support of