The Question of Jewish Identity and Ethiopian Jewish Origins,” by Ephraim Isaac, Ph.D
World Jewry can ill afford to divide itself into first- and second-class Jews. Xenophobia distracts us from recognizing that the mass aliyah of Ethiopian Jews to Israel was one of the most remarkable events in Jewish history. Doubts cast on the authenticity of Ethiopian Jewry do not hold up under scholarly inquiry. Ethiopian Jews are not Ethiopians or Jewish but Ethiopian and Jewish. Ethiopian Judaism has preserved some lost ancient religious practices. The fact that Ethiopian Jews speak Amharic and Tigrinya is no more unusual than that European Jews spoke and speak European languages. If the origins of some European Jewish groups were subjected to the same level of scrutiny as those of Ethiopian Jews, their authenticity too might be cast into doubt. There is far more that unites Ethiopian Jewry than divides them from other Jewish ethnic groups.
BINA is an initiative By Us to Empower Us
The Beta Israel of North America (BINA) Cultural Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to fostering the continuity of the Ethiopian Jewish cultural heritage, empowering Ethiopian Jews within the American Jewish community, providing assistance to Ethiopian Jews who come to the U.S., and serving as a bridge between the Jewish, Ethiopian, and African-American communities.
In Hebrew, BINA means “understanding.” Our aim is to promote understanding of Ethiopian Jewish culture and history. We believe that this will help us retain and carry forward our traditions and enrich Jewish life as a whole.