Ono Academic College co-sponsored, together with the Yerusalem Forum, a Conference entitled “The Secrets of Preserving the Tradition” which honored eight traditional Ethiopian spiritual leaders who guided the Beta Israel community in both Ethiopia and Israel.
Dr. Samuel Schwartz, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Resource Development at Ono Academic College offered greetings to English-speaking participants. He noted that for over 2,500 years, Kessim maintained the faith and unity of Ethiopian Jewry. Their steadfast leadership and devotion to Judaism – including their vision of Jerusalem – enabled the Beta Israel community to preserve its distinct Jewish way of life for over two millennia, despite its isolation from the rest of the Jewish world.
Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom discussed the need to maintain the institution of the Keisim in Israel, and even increase their numbers and influence.
Keis Sami Elias, the Chairman of the High Religious Council of Ethiopian Jewry (Zera Aharon Kahanat) also spoke and noted the importance of Keisim acquiring an academic education. He himself received a master’s degree from Ono Academic College and noted that another conference speaker, Keis Roi Tamanyo, is currently studying in a bachelor’s degree program at Ono.