An Ethiopian Jewish Family Rescues a Rare Copy of the Book of Psalms

July 13 2022

In 1991, thanks to the IDF’s Operation Solomon, Askabo Meshiha escaped Ethiopia with his family, but had to leave behind many possessions, including a manuscript of the book of Psalms written in Ge’ez—the liturgical language of the country’s Jews and Orthodox Christians. A few months ago, the family retrieved it. Cnaan Liphshiz tells the story:

Secretly and on short notice, the family had to leave their rural homes for the capital Addis Ababa with as little baggage as possible, and so they entrusted non-Jewish neighbors with keeping the book safe until they could retrieve it. From Israel, they tracked the book’s whereabouts for more than 30 years, never losing hope of getting it back—even after their native country fell into civil war and the book wound up in the hands of a Christian priest who demanded a steep ransom to release it.

Dozens of square parchment pages measuring 11-by-11 inches had fallen out of the binding, and others were barely attached. But the book’s significance remained easy to identify: among the multiple types and colors of ink, some segments are written in red—a way of signifying that a kes, the Amharic-language word for a rabbi, had made additions to the original.

Even speakers of Amharic typically cannot read or communicate in Ge’ez, which is decipherable only to a dwindling group of spiritual leaders of Ethiopian Jewry, who mostly now live in Israel. Last week, the book was used in prayer, probably for the first time in at least 34 years.

The book is significant to far more than just Askabo Meshiha’s extended family. It is one of just a handful of texts in Israel that are part of the Orit, an Ethiopian variant of the Hebrew Bible that predates the advent of that standardized text.

Read more at JTA

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Hebrew Bible, Psalms, Rare books

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy