The road to 'Yerussalem' - Asterai and the Hebrew literature of Beta Israel

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Abstract

The immigration of the Beta Israel community from Ethiopia to Israel during the 1980s and the 1990s posed a challenge to Israeli society in relation to its ability to know, understand, and absorb a Jewish community with differing religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. For the Beta Israel, immigrating to Israel created a rift between their dream of returning to Jerusalem, a dream that would only be fulfilled after a journey of suffering, and its realization - in which they became an inferior and excluded minority within Israel. This article discusses Hebrew Ethiopian-Israeli literature, focusing on the major narrative of homecoming - the Journey to Yerussalem. This literature, which is relatively new and small, brings the voice of two generations - those who immigrated to Israel as adults, and the younger generation who were small children during the journey. Presenting various texts, and focusing on Asterai by Omri Tegamlak Avera (2008a) I shall show how Ethiopian-Israeli literature constituted itself as a journey literature, contrasting the old generation with the younger generation's identity formation as it appears in the representation of this journey narrative, constructing a more complex, ambivalent approach to the concepts of immigration and absorption, homeland and diaspora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Identities
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Beta Israel
  • Ethiopian-Israeli literature
  • Hebrew literature
  • immigration
  • journey narrative

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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