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

July 20 2018

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. . . .

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Read more at Times of Israel

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

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy