Culture, Global, Identity

Fly Away Home

Flying over Ethiopia at night feels like flying over a tucked away fold of the ocean. Black pockets stare at the foreign bird-like creature, a faranji machine as she makes her way, casting no shadow over Ethiopian soil. Pale constellations reveal the skeletal structure of Addis Ababa as the plane humbly descends towards the four million Ethiopians living in the country’s capitol. Doubt looms in my stomach as I look towards Baruch Tegene’s words, the blessing he gave me before departing on this three-month trip for strength.
He spoke of a season of a stork that would sail over Ethiopia and the Beta Israel communities when he was young. Upon being spotted the Jewish people would call out yearningly: “Carry me to Yerushalayim with you. To the holy sites of Abraham and Solomon, our forefathers.” When I first heard, I longed to long so lovingly for a home. His words have always penetrated wholly, for I feel so open to someone I hold to the same respect as my Saba Moshe — heroes of our people. Yet now, flying over the same trees and sand as the winged ones, I do not hear the same plight of Baruch and the Beta Israel as the stork did long ago. But as the birds of Moses and Solomon rerouted their migration to include and respond to the prayers of the Beta Israel in recent decades, I’m eager to learn more about the stork of promise and try to understand whether she will or she should listen to the yearnings of the Falash Mura, the liminal people caught between their Jewish roots, their Christian conversions and their hope to resettle with family in Israel.
Regardless, my photographic vision must hear the plight of humanity.

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