Rationale & Purpose

In 2019, Ono Academic College, an institute of higher education at the forefront of the promotion of multiculturalism, opened the world’s first International center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry.

The Center was founded by Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom, a popular Ethiopian-Israeli community leader, renowned scholar, and well-published author. Housed at the College’s Kiryat Ono campus, the Center documents, researches and explores the heritage and culture of Ethiopian Jewry, mapping the organic development of a unique branch of Judaism that is interwoven into the fabric of Ethiopian culture and has become an integral part of Israeli culture.

The Ethiopian Jewish community represents a unique and under-explored voice in the spectrum of Jewish identities.  As the world’s only “living repository” of pre-Talmudic Jewish life, with traditions dating back to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the “Beta Israel” (the term Ethiopian Jews have traditionally used to refer to themselves) also lay claim to one of the most fascinating, tumultuous, and often distressing chapters in modern Jewish history.  While the mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel was nothing short of miraculous, the experiences that followed, including the erasure of their culture and way of life as they embraced modern Jewishness, stands as a case study of pain and perseverance, racism and resilience, and sheds light on the shortcomings of an otherwise triumphant period of the ingathering of global Jewish communities in Israel.

Forced conversions and doubt expressed about their Judasim led an entire generation of Ethiopian Jews to adopt foreign traditions and muddle their identities for the sake of being accepted as Israeli.  As such, Ethiopian-Israelis continue to grapple with understanding who they are, and Israeli society is poorer for discounting the potentially significant contributions of a Rabbinic Jewish culture.

Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom endeavors to use new disciplinary research tools specifically relevant to Ethiopian Jewry to understand their tradition as they understand it themselves and discern what it can contribute to Israel.  This research connects Ethiopian-Israelis, including many students at Ono Academic College, with who they once were in order to determine how their cultural identities will develop moving forward, as well as create a multicultural exchange where everyone can explore an entirely new approach to Jewishness.

Otherwise stated, what was lost in translation to Israeliness, the center seeks to restore to a new, more inclusive Israeliness.

Activities

include classes with traditional Ethiopian religious leaders (Kessim), conferences, study tours to Ethiopia, and cooperation with other Ethiopian Jewry organizations, an academic journal about Ethiopian Jewry and more.

Through the Center’s leadership, the 7 Kessim have been studying in Academic programs at Ono and will lead sessions in Ono’s Beit Midrash reflecting the traditional Jewish value of “to learn and to teach.”  In addition to endowing the world with their unique Ethiopian approach to Torah, the Kessim will also simultaneously develop the leadership tools that will enable them to become effective spiritual leaders and earn academic accreditation.

The Center has produced study curricula on the topic of Ethiopian Jewry (History, Zionism, Religion and Culture) for Jewish schools in North America in partnership with “Derech Kfar” and Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.  In time, the Center’s research will be integrated into curricula and enrichment programs for the Israeli educational system and the wider public.

The Center has also organized social and community programs that encourage students from the Ethiopian community to explore their origins and deepen their identity, as well as facilitate dialogue and joint research with other institutions that are involved in the study of other communities.  In this vein, the Center has researched Ethiopian Jewry heritage while addressing the conflicts that arise from second-generation Ethiopians now living in Israel.

With its many initiatives working in tandem to expand academic and community ties with the Ethiopian community, the Center serves as a multicultural and multidisciplinary hub for the promotion of Ethiopian heritage in schools, museums, community centers and other learning environments throughout Israel and around the globe.

About the Donor

The Gewurz Family of Montreal, Canada, is proud to support Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom in the establishment of The International Center for Ethiopian Jewish Heritage Study and Research at Ono Academic College.

News About the Center

  • 15/12/2021  Ono Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Program for Ethiopian-Israeli Students  >>>
  • 03/11/2021 መልካም  የስግድ በዓል !  – Melkam Sigd Bahal – Happy Sigd  >>>
  • 24/10/2021 Ono Sponsors Pre-Sigd Day Educational Hike – “What is Sigd for Me?”  >>>
  • 01/08/2021 Ono CEO and Founder Discusses Ono’s Role in Training Role Models in the Ethiopian Community  >>>
  • 21/07/2021 Director of Ono Ethiopian Center Talks about Tish’a B’Av  >>>
  • 19/07/2021 Ono Scholar Presents at American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry  >>>
  • 17/06/2021 Ono’s Ethiopian Center Sponsors Online Seminar Marking 30 Years Since Operation Solomon  >>>
  • 27/05/2021 Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom Talks About His Own Journey from Ethiopian to Israel  >>>
  • 27/05/2021 Director of Ono’s Ethiopian Center talks about the meeting of the Ethiopian & Rabbinic Traditions of Judaism in a film about the establishment of “Hamakom” Jewish Center  >>>
  • 13/5/2021 Individual and Collective Identities – Jews and Arabs  >>>
  • 9/5/2021 Is a Cemetery a Holy or an Unclean place? A contrast between the Rabbinic and Ethiopian Jewish Approaches  >>>
  • 9/5/2021 Director of Ono’s Ethiopian Center Talks About Jerusalem in a Film about the City  >>>
  • 9/5/2021 Director of Ono’s Ethiopian Center and Israeli Air Force Team Up for Jerusalem  >>>
  • 4/5/2021 How to Determine Who is a Jew?  >>>
  • 4/5/2021 Ono Ethiopian Center Marks Jerusalem Day with the program: “The Journey to Jerusalem: Remembering Together Those We Lost Along the Way”  >>>
  • 4/5/2021 Ono Sponsors Memorial Event Commemorating Ethiopian Jews Who Perished on the Journey to Israel  >>>
  • 5/4/2021 Ono Hosts Conference Marking 30 Years Since Operation Shlomo Brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel  >>>
  • 25/3/2021 Ethiopian Passover: The Difference Between Quality of Life and Standard of Living  >>>
  • 25/3/2021 A Hagadda of the People: Ono Scholar Discusses the Exodus of the Jews from Ethiopia and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt  >>>
  • 25/3/2021 Ono Scholar Discusses the Relationship Between Passover and Easter  >>>
  • 24/3/2021 Ono Holds Conference on “Education for Equality, Multi-Culturalism and Solidarity in Israel”  >>>
  • 11/3/2021 Why did Jews in Ethiopia Not Celebrate the Holiday of Purim?
  • 11/3/2021 How Did Ethiopian Jews Keep the Commandment of the Red Heifer in Ethiopia?  >>>
  • 11/2/2021 Ono to Host Emergency Conference on Renewed Civil War in Ethiopia and its Effects on Beta Israel  >>>
  • 2/2/2021 Head of Ono Ethiopian Center Presents at Mandel Institute Seminar for IDF Officers  >>>
  • 2/2/2021 Ono Scholar of Ethiopian Jewry Headlines Conference Organized By Ethiopia’s Embassy in Israel  >>>
  • 31/1/2021 The Splitting of the Red Sea and Ethiopian Jewry  >>>
  • 26/1/2021 Why did they sacrifice a Passover Lamb in Ethiopia?  >>>
  • 17/1/2021 Ono Ethiopian Scholar Explains Why You Don’t Go on a Date Without Getting A Picture First  >>>
  • 23/11/2020 Ono Graduate, Minister MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, is Profiled in the Jerusalem Report  >>>
  • 15/11/2020 Happy Sigd Holiday!  >>>
  • 14/10/2020 Incoming Ono Student Profiled at Walla News: “The first in the family to begin academic studies”  >>>
  • 21/09/2020 Ono Graduates, Serving as First Female Ethiopian-Israeli and Ultra-Orthodox Government Ministers, Profiled  >>>
  • 24/8/2020  Profile of Adv. Zeev Kaso, the Director of the Program for the Advancement and Integration of Ethiopian-Israeli Students at Ono Academic College  >>>
  • 20/8/2020  Ono Partner on Ethiopian Jewish Curriculum Profiled in Jerusalem Post  >>>
  • 2/8/2020  Director of Ono’s Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry Says that Ethiopian Jewish Values Can Serve as an “Antibiotic” Healing Today’s Toxic Social Interaction  >>>
  • 17/6/2020 TBT –  Director of Ono’s International Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry Comments on the Ethiopian-Israeli Protests Following the Police Shooting of Ethiopian youth Solomon Teka  >>>
  • 31/5/20 Ono and Yerusalem Forum Conference Honoring Ethiopian Keisim  >>>
  • 26/5/20 Ono’s Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom Speaks at Boston Jerusalem Day Event  >>>
  • 24/5/20 Ono Graduate Pnina Tamano-Shata Appointed Israel’s Minister of Absorption and Integration  >>>
  • 21/5/20 Director of Ono Center for Study of Ethiopian Jewry Headlines Boston Program Marking Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who Perished on their Way to Israel  >>>
  • 19/5/2020  Ono Faculty Present at Conference Honoring Eight Exemplary Ethiopian Kessim  >>>
  • 12/5/2020 Director of Ono’s International Center for the Study of Ethiopian Jewry Addresses How Religious Colonialism Tried to Eradicate the Status of Traditional Ethiopian-Jewish Spiritual Leaders  >>>
  • 16/4/2020 Ethiopian Jews and the Mystery of the Song of the Sea  >>>
  • 16/4/2020 The Exodus from Egypt and the Exodus from Ethiopia  >>>
  • 5/12/19 TBT – Ono Conference on Ethiopian Keisim Performing Jewish Marriage Ceremonies in Israel  >>>