Modern Day Exodus

December 28, 2009 at 8:09 am | Posted in Engliyada Winter 2009-10 | Leave a comment

Imagine…being in exile for centuries.

Imagine…traveling by foot for hundreds of miles through rugged and treacherous conditions.

Imagine…losing members of your family through the long journey.

Imagine…finally finding your home in Israel

Imagine…this exodus happening in 1991.

To most people, exodus is the ancient story we retell every year at Pesach.   But for the Beta Israelis–men, women & children from Ethiopia, this story happened yesterday.

Eight years ago Talia Argamant, a graduate of the Partnership 2000 Community Builders, and Ethiopian women of Beit Shean established the  Shorashim (Roots) Theater.

Through dance, song and narrative, the women, their sisters, daughters and granddaughters share their personal stories.

Stories of having no rights in Ethiopian households.

Stories of betrothal at age 7 and marriage at 14.

Stories of loss of sisters and children during the journey.

And stories of arriving at their new home in Israel.

Participants of the Engliyada Mission were guests at a performance of Shorashim, and made fast friends with these courageous women.

On a personal note, I remember receiving a call in 1991 asking for a contribution for Operation Solomon–to help bring Ethiopian Jews home to Israel.  I gave a small donation to the effort that seemed millions of miles and lifetimes away from me.  But after meeting these women, I feel that in some small way I was a part of the story.

At the risk of sounding cliché, never underestimate the power of your gift–no matter what the size.  We can and do make a difference.

We’re on our way!!!

December 15, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Posted in Engliyada Winter 2009-10 | 1 Comment

Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many blog entries for the Engliyada Winter mission.  You may be asking yourself, “Self, what is Engliyada?”

Engliyada Participants Winter 2009/10

Engliyada Participants Winter 2009/10 Back Row L-R: Brad Kleinman, Elana Cohen, Steve Monto, Mike Mitchell, Josh Katz. Front Row: Jamie Spiegle, Amy Filzer, Diane Green. Kneeling: Vicky Budge. Not Pictured: David Solomon

Engliyada is a program where Clevelanders volunteer to teach conversational English in Beit Shean.  In an interactive environment, learning takes place while personal connections are easily formed. Engliyada is intended to supplement opportunities for Israelis to learn and improve English proficiency, and enhances the relationship between Israeli and Diaspora Jews.

Josh on Skype

Meeting with our Beit Shean Partners via Skype

Ten very enthusiastic Clevelanders participated in several educational sessions to prepare themselves for an Israeli classroom.  Their time included meeting Beit Sheani counterparts via Skype.

Over the coming days we look forward to sharing stories from the classrooms and our adventures in the Beit Shean region.

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