Culture, Global, Identity

Shavuot in Addis Ababa

Poverty swells in the slums of Addis Ababa. Yet none of the tin and mud homes that I have visited lacked in either grace or generosity. The beauty of having time to work on this project allows me to not only spend my moments seeking out the aesthetic, but also using my time tending to a growing trust and sensitivity, ultimately finding the poetic balance that weaves the photojournalist with the humanist. Today I enjoyed listening and not looking as intently.
And as I listened I began to feel the growing strings of sympathy pull me. I came to know the deep crisis that is endured by the Falash Mura, as they wait between three to nine years with the unrelenting expectancy that they will be brought to Israel. Those that have been rejected hardly flinch when they say: Maybe next week I too will join my brethren in the holy land. Listening to each speak his own impoverished share, I began to realize that while all dreams dreamt were about climbing out of poverty and joining immediate loved ones in Beer Sheva, Tzfat and Jerusalem, I was one of the only ones aware that tonight the Jewish holiday of Shavuot begins. All barriers to Jerusalem are crushed as Jerusalem’s gates are unhinged and she embraces all those yearning to congregate within her. How appropriate it felt to be with these people on the eve of this holiday, and how alone I feel in its celebration.

6 thoughts on “Shavuot in Addis Ababa

  1. hey kitra, i just read about your work on jewschool. i spent last summer in addis, volunteering at a hospice there. anyway, i saw you had no place to celebrate chagim and shabbat. i have a good jewish contact for you there for shabbat meals-a really wonderful guy with a very open home. and you know there is also an old adenite community there and their synagogue is open on some holidays (went to a bar mitzvah there last summer) though the community is very small (

  2. Robbie,
    Those contacts sound wonderful! I would really appreciate if you could send me any names and numbers at ckitra at yahoo dot com. The hospice also sounds fascinating and I think would be a great story that needs to be told. Hospice in Addis?! wow.
    I’ll try to post more frequently, but internet here is very slow here .
    I hope this finds you well spreading your wellbeing to others. Deep love,

  3. Look up Dr. Rick Hodes. He’s the JDC rep in Addis, and he also is the doctor for Mother Theresa’s Orphanage. He even keeps kosher.

  4. Kitra love, I must admit I’m a little stunned by the work you’re doing here. Scope and quality. Enchanting photowork, and your writing, I see, has come forward in leaps and bounds (if only Mrs Cohen could see you now!). You seem to be creating and living beautifully. Shkoyach! Have fun! Best – Sigali

  5. I might well be in Addis ababa for rosh Hashana tis eyar since I seem to be stuck for a flight.
    How do I get in touch with Dr. Hodes to help me make arrangements? Perhas stay with him or nearby as I (am a 22-year old girl)and don’t want to be alone.

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