Balej Jewish Community - Ethiopia
Jun 16 to Jul 16, 2009
Kulanu's Albums > Balej Jewish Community - Ethiopia
In the summer of 2009, Dana Eitches, a student from Princeton University, spent several weeks in
Ethiopia visiting the Balej Jewish community of Ethiopia. Although the community shares an ancestral history with the Beta Israel Jews of Ethiopia (most of whom have made aliyah to Israel), they became a separate community approximately 150 years ago after having migrated South and going underground to avoid persecution by their Christian neighbors. With a change of government, some young members of the community are looking to reconnect with the mainstream Jewish community and want to reassert their Jewish identities in an open manner. According to their own estimates, the community today numbers approximately 150,000 and lives primarily in the Kechene neighborhood of Addis Ababa. Dana's photographs capture several aspects of life in the community including synagogues, community elders and craftsmen and women working as weavers, potters, leather tanners, and blacksmith. The organized Balej community calls itself ENSZO (Ethiopian North Shewa Zionist Organization). Photos © Dana Eitches. Contact for permission to use them.