Honoring the Journey: Dror Israel's Memorial Ceremony for Ethiopian Jews who Perished in Sudan
Each year, Dror Israel's associated youth movement, Hanoar Haoved veHalomed, holds a poignant memorial ceremony in Netanya to commemorate the Ethiopian Jews who tragically lost their lives during their journey to Israel. This significant event, organized by a group of dedicated teens from the youth movement, aims to shed light on the remarkable story of the Ethiopian Jewish community's Aliyah and the challenges they faced along the way.
The ceremony is a result of an immersive seminar where teens of Ethiopian descent delve deep into the history of the Ethiopian Jews' Aliyah. Inspired by their newfound knowledge and emotional connection to the stories of resilience, this year's participants chose to focus on the experiences of women and the hardships they endured during their journey and stay in the refugee camps in Sudan. Through a captivating play, complemented by beautifully choreographed dances, the ceremony brought to life the struggles and triumphs of the Ethiopian Jewish community.
In the words of Shani Samo and Emuna Trevark, two gap year participants and organizers of the ceremony, "This year, we chose to illuminate the story of the women on the journey and commemorate our mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers because they were the strength and support of the community that was never talked about or mentioned.
Mothers who lost their family and still continued to walk towards the dream.
Prisoners of Zion who suffered unbearable torture because of their choice to help the Jews immigrate.
Many women who went through hell and still chose to continue to Israel and to protect their children at all costs, to be their pillar.
All those women who were able to bear the unbearable pain, stay strong, keep walking and watch over those who are left alive."
Over the past 10 years, Hanoar Haoved's ceremony in Netanya has become a central and significant event in marking the Memorial Day for the Ethiopian Jews who Perished on their Journey to Israel. Unfortunately, many Israelis are unaware of this day and its historical importance, with most municipalities neglecting to hold ceremonies or acknowledge the date. Recognizing this gap, the youth movement took it upon themselves to create a public platform to raise awareness and educate others about this pivotal moment in Ethiopian Jewish and Israeli history. Their dedication has resulted in a thought-provoking ceremony that draws over a thousand attendees from across the country each year.
This year's ceremony held a special place in the heart of Daniel Chard, 28, a Dror Israel educator who had the privilege of playing and accompanying the movement's teens during their moving performances. Together, they presented five meaningful songs, including original compositions by the Dror Israel educators as well as well-known melodies. “The countless hours spent rehearsing and preparing for the ceremony showcased the deep significance and emotional connection the teens had to this important day. It is a testament to the transformative power of the preparation process and the impact it had on the teen participants.”
Dror Israel's annual memorial ceremony for Ethiopian Jews stands as a testament to the strength, resilience, and unwavering spirit of a community that overcame tremendous hardships in their pursuit of reaching Israel. Through their creative and heartfelt commemoration, Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed youth movement continues to shed light on this important chapter in Jewish history, ensuring that the memory of those who perished remains alive and that future generations understand and appreciate their remarkable journey.