Until Their Return to Israel, Ethiopian Jews Did Not Know the Temple Had Been Destroyed

This Sunday, Jews around the world will observe Tisha b’Av, the ancient day of mourning over the destruction of the two Temples. While Ethiopian Jews also observed the month of Av as a time of mourning, due to their centuries-long isolation from the rest of world Jewry they had never learned that the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, was no longer standing. Michal Avera Samuel, who came to Israel from Ethiopia at the age of nine, recounts making this discovery:

Like my parents and teachers, [as a child] I believed that the Second Temple stood in its place in Jerusalem and was literally made of pure gold. I grew up hearing about the kohanim, or priests. I fell asleep listening to stories about the halo hovering over Jerusalem, and about Jews who merited to dwell in the Holy City cloaked in white garments—people blessed with pure hearts, clean thoughts, and devoid of sin. . . .

Deep within Ethiopia, my family and I, along with our neighbors from the Beta Israel community, hoped to merit to return to Jerusalem one day. We prayed and performed customs that expressed our yearning for Zion. When we slaughtered livestock, we would turn the animals’ heads toward Jerusalem, and whenever we noticed a flock of storks above our fields, we would chant a song in which we requested that the birds deliver our prayers [for] return to our homeland.

We knew that the First Temple had been destroyed. During the first seventeen days of the month of Av, we would fast during the daytime. We chanted special lamentations in Amharic and practiced other customs of mourning prevalent among many Jewish communities. We even continued ritual sacrifices as a distant memory of the Temple times. . . .

The ideal of Jerusalem was the force that provided us with the stamina to persevere during the arduous trek through the desert. . . . Then we arrived and discovered that the Temple had been destroyed. Jerusalem did not appear as the place I had so badly yearned to reach. Learning about the destruction of the Temple only as I reached the gates of the Old City was an earth-shattering disappointment. . . .

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Israel & Zionism, Religion & Holidays, Second Temple, Tisha b'Av


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship