Synopsis

Fekadu and his family of eight have been waiting in Gondar for ten years. They are hoping to among those who are chosen to go to Israel but, though they are of Jewish heritage, they had been practicing Christianity since their grandparents converted many years ago. Do they fit the criteria as to who is Jewish and deserving of acceptance at “home” in the state ofIsrael?

 

A ruling by the chief rabbinate declaring “Once a Jew, always a Jew,” has finally opened the door to the Falash Mura (Jews who had converted to Christianity.)

 

Fekadu left a relatively comfortable life in his rural village to move his family to Gondar to wait for the trip. He longs for a reunion with his siblings already in Israel.

 

The life of a Jew in Ethiopia is not an easy one. They were called hyena people, and were believed to have evil powers. The Jews were ostracized at best and persecuted at worst.

 

Fekadu’s mom and remaining brothers, sisters and their families have finally gotten the go-ahead. But Fekadu, Enguday, his wife, and their six children must stay behind to wait even longer. Something is wrong.

 

Also waiting in Gondar is Belayhon. But he has been told he will not go to Israel. His Jewish lineage is on his father’s side, not fitting the rules of maternal ancestry, which is required. He goes back to his old village looking, with nostalgia, on the farm, which used to supply his family’s needs. He says he still has hope but, if he really can’t go, he will commit suicide. There is nothing to return to.

 

On the departure day for his relatives, Fekadu tries hard not to show his emotion. His brother, Asnako weeps openly. All are certain that this is the last time they will ever see each other.

 

Months later, Fekadu and his wife, Enguday, are arguing. They have learned that the problem with their emigration is their adopted son, Worku. They must either leave him behind, or be forced to stay in Ethiopia. Fekadu says that all of their children are the same. Worku is no different. Ultimately they decide to leave without Worku.

 

At the last moment Worku’s paperwork is changed and he is allowed to go. The family prepares to leave everything they have ever known.

 

Life in Israel is a shock to the Ethiopian Jews. Their culture is overwhelmed and suppressed in the high-tech, Hebrew- speaking country. It is hard for the new immigrants to earn their keep. Their Jewish-ness is doubted among their new countrymen. Fekadu, who worked as a midwife in Gondar, gets a job cleaning restaurants.

 

Two years later, Worku flourishes in his new school but has gradually become distanced from his adoptive family. His choir takes a trip to New York and he speaks of his desires to be a doctor and a poet.

 

Belayhon still waits in Gondar.