From Africa to Zion: The Shep­herd Boy Who Became Israel’s First Ethiopi­an-Born Journalist

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020

One night in July 1983, the inhab­i­tants of the vil­lage of Til­a­ma­do dis­ap­peared. Bare­foot and wear­ing tra­di­tion­al dress, the men and women, the chil­dren and the elder­ly, set out on a jour­ney they had dreamed about their whole lives: the jour­ney to Jerusalem. Lit­tle did they know what hor­rors wait­ed along the way and what ter­ri­ble price they would pay to ful­fill their dream. Join­ing this exo­dus was a young boy, Ade­no, the son of Yidege and Baze­to Abebe. The vil­lage had been his whole world. Before the age of eight, he was already run­ning around in the mead­ows as a shep­herd boy‚ and now, he was embark­ing on a trek with no end in sight. Thir­ty-six years lat­er, Dan­ny Ade­no Abebe’s jour­ney between Ethiopia and Jerusalem is still ongo­ing. The boy who grew up in a vil­lage north of Gondar and nev­er knew his own date of birth man­aged to over­come adver­si­ty to become the first Ethiopi­an-born sol­dier in IDF Army Radio and the first Ethiopi­an-Israeli jour­nal­ist. He worked for the Yediot Aharonot news­pa­per for years, filed hun­dreds of reports and inves­ti­ga­tions, and won pres­ti­gious prizes. But even today, as a father of four, Dan­ny is forced to con­front prej­u­dice and racism. In his book From Africa to Zion, Dan­ny reveals his fas­ci­nat­ing and won­der­ful life sto­ry and the sto­ries of the 16,000 Ethiopi­an Jews who immi­grat­ed to Israel in Oper­a­tion Moses and of the thou­sands who died on the way. He describes his child­hood in a mud shack with­out water or elec­tric­i­ty, the gru­el­ing trek by foot to Sudan, the hor­rors in the Um Raqu­ba Refugee Camp, his first days at an immi­grant absorp­tion cen­ter in Arad, and his time at a reli­gious board­ing school, where Israel sent many Ethiopi­an immi­grant chil­dren. He describes falling in love with the writ­ten word and grap­pling as a jour­nal­ist with the real­i­ty he cov­ered: the Blood Dona­tions Scan­dal, police vio­lence, and the cold shoul­der of the rab­binic estab­lish­ment. He also writes about his vis­its to his native vil­lage‚ once with his wife Avi­va and their chil­dren, and once again while writ­ing this book‚ and about his two-year ser­vice as an emis­sary to the local Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty in South Africa. Through­out, he reveals him­self to be an extreme­ly tal­ent­ed and sen­si­tive writer with a sharp and wit­ty sense of humor. From Africa to Zion is an extra­or­di­nary life sto­ry, but above all‚ it is a sto­ry about peo­ple, about love, and about the impor­tance of fam­i­ly, regard­less of skin col­or or eth­nic­i­ty. This is the Ethiopi­an Israeli mem­oir we’ve been wait­ing for. Dan­ny Ade­no Abebe tells us the truth, in all its painful com­plex­i­ty, about the Ethiopi­an expe­ri­ence in Israel. No Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty paid a high­er price on the road to Zion than Ethiopi­an Jews; none has been received more grudg­ing­ly by Israeli soci­ety. By turns beau­ti­ful, ago­niz­ing, inspir­ing, and hope­ful, this is an essen­tial book for under­stand­ing Israel today.

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