On Wings of Eagles: The Secret Oper­a­tion of the Ethiopi­an Exodus

Micha Feld­mann
  • Review
By – July 30, 2012

Micha Feld­mann draws on his exten­sive knowl­edge of Ethiopi­an Jew­ish cul­ture and lan­guage for this jour­nal­ized account of his expe­ri­ence with the Ethiopi­an immi­gra­tion to Israel. Feld­man, who is the direc­tor of Selah, an Israeli orga­ni­za­tion that assists immi­grants from the for­mer Sovi­et Union and Ethiopia, worked on the immi­gra­tion project from its start in the late 1970s until its cul­mi­na­tion in 1991.

The cul­ture of the Ethiopi­an Jews is a mys­tery to many, as most main­stream Jew­ish his­to­ry texts make lit­tle men­tion of it. In a text that is appro­pri­ate for both the novice as well as the expert, Feld­man explains with sen­si­tiv­i­ty such dis­tinc­tive reli­gious cus­toms as the hol­i­day of Sigd and the sep­a­ra­tion hut to the unknow­ing read­er.

The cus­toms and cul­ture of the Ethiopi­an Jews, or Beta Israel as they are often called, may seem for­eign to many read­ers, but they are an inte­gral part of Jew­ish his­to­ry. Feld­man seems to feel the same way based on the awe and rev­er­ence with which he describes his African-Jew­ish brethren. This atti­tude is inspir­ing and long past due, as the Ethiopi­an Jews strug­gled to be rec­og­nized as legit­i­mate Jews accord­ing to Jew­ish law for quite some time both in Israel and abroad.

Read­ers will become more famil­iar with an ancient Jew­ish tribe that sur­vived for thou­sands of years in iso­la­tion and nev­er lost its desire to immi­grate to their ances­tral homeland.

Bran­don Stern is cur­rent­ly pur­su­ing his MBA at Rut­gers Busi­ness School. He holds a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry from Muh­len­berg Col­lege with a focus ion Israeli and Mid­dle East­ern His­to­ry. Bran­don also received a minor in Jew­ish Stud­ies and stud­ied at the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty in Jerusalem, Israel.

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