Before Christianity and Islam spread, a lot of the Arabian peninsula, which is northeast of Africa and is on the Arabian Plate and has countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was home to Jews. Judaism spread to Africa through trade. African Jews, also called the Beta Israel community, believe they are descended from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. There are many interesting and little-known facts about them. Here are five interesting facts about this interesting group:
- African Jews have a long and complex history.
Some historians think that the Beta Israel community is made up of the descendants of ancient Israelite tribes who moved to Ethiopia, while others believe they may have become Jewish in the Middle Ages. What is certain is that the Beta Israel have lived in Ethiopia for many centuries and have kept their own culture and religion even though they have been persecuted and treated badly for many years.
- African Jews have their own unique traditions and practices.
Even though they believe and act in many of the same ways as other Jewish groups around the world, the Beta Israel have made their own traditions over the centuries. For example, they use a version of the Jewish calendar that is different from what Jews use, and they have their own language for worship called Ge’ez. They also have a long history of folk music, dance, and stories. These things are important parts of their culture.
- African Jews faced significant persecution and discrimination.
Even though the Beta Israel have lived in Ethiopia for a long time, the Christian and Muslim groups that make up most of the country have often ignored and mistreated them. In the 1970s and 1980s, they were treated very badly by Mengistu Haile Mariam’s communist government. Many of them were moved to cities against their will and were not allowed to go to school or get a job.
- African Jews have experienced a mass migration to Israel.
In the 1980s and 1990s, tens of thousands of Beta Israel moved to Israel. Under the Law of Return, they were given citizenship. But moving to Israel and becoming part of Israeli society was not always easy, and many African Jews had a hard time getting used to life in a new place.
- African Jews are making important contributions to Israeli society.
With many of its members holding significant positions in politics, business, and the arts, the Beta Israel community in Israel is now well-established and flourishing. The history and customs of African Jews have recently attracted increased interest, and groups like the Association for the Research of Ethiopian Jewry and the Center for Jewish Ethiopian Heritage are seeking to protect and advance this unique cultural heritage.