From Africa to Zion by Danny Abebe
The Shepherd Boy Who Became Israel’s First Ethiopian-Born Journalist
One night in July 1983, the inhabitants of the village of Tilamado disappeared. Barefoot and wearing traditional dress, the men and women, the children and the elderly, set out on a journey they had dreamed about their whole lives: the journey to Jerusalem. Little did they know what horrors waited along the way and what terrible price they would pay to fulfill their dream.
Joining this exodus was a young boy, Adeno, the son of Yidege and Bazeto Abebe. The village had been his whole world. Before the age of eight, he was already running around in the meadows as a shepherd boy—and now, he was embarking on a trek with no end in sight.
Thirty-six years later, Danny Adeno Abebe’s journey between Ethiopia and Jerusalem is still ongoing. The boy who grew up in a village north of Gondar and never knew his own date of birth managed to overcome adversity to become the first Ethiopian-born soldier in IDF Army Radio and the first Ethiopian-Israeli journalist. He worked for the Yediot Aharonot newspaper for years, filed hundreds of reports and investigations, and won prestigious prizes. But even today, as a father of four, Danny is forced to confront prejudice and racism.
In his book From Africa to Zion, Danny reveals his fascinating and wonderful life story and the stories of the 16,000 Ethiopian Jews who immigrated to Israel in Operation Moses and of the thousands who died on the way. He describes his childhood in a mud shack without water or electricity, the grueling trek by foot to Sudan, the horrors in the Um Raquba Refugee Camp, his first days at an immigrant absorption center in Arad, and his time at a religious boarding school, where Israel sent many Ethiopian immigrant children. He describes falling in love with the written word and grappling as a journalist with the reality he covered: the Blood Donations Scandal, police violence, and the cold shoulder of the rabbinic establishment. He also writes about his visits to his native village—once with his wife Aviva and their children, and once again while writing this book—and about his two-year service as an emissary to the local Jewish community in South Africa. Throughout, he reveals himself to be an extremely talented and sensitive writer with a sharp and witty sense of humor.
Year first published: 2021