Sunday, September 18, 2011

Return: To Ethiopia

The title of this post might sound a bit misleading and more exciting than it actually is. No, we are not planning a return trip to Ethiopia anytime soon. Nor are we planning another adoption from Ethiopia.

This summer, on one of our many indoor walks at a local mall, my sons and I befriended a woman named Hadassah. She works at one of the kiosks in the mall selling products made from Dead Sea minerals. Walking by one day, she asked me if I was interested in her products. Normally, I would avoid eye contact, say "no thank you" and walk on, but I couldn't look away, because this woman looked so very Ethiopian to me. Having adopted my two sons from Ethiopia, I nearly always ask "Are you Ethiopian?" if I'm reasonably sure my hunch is right.

So that day, rather than cruise on by, I asked her if she was Ethiopian. "Well, I'm from there, too," was her response, "but I'm also from Israel."

I had heard about the mass exodus of Jews from Ethiopia in 1980, and Hadassah and her family left in a second wave of Ethiopian Jews in 1995.  So my interest was piqued when I heard about THIS DOCUMENTARY, called The Name My Mother Gave Me. If you click on the link I just provided, you can watch the hour-long documentary online about a group of college age Ethiopian-Israelis who made a pilgrimage back to the land where they were born. The name of the film has to do with the storyline of one of the characters who had dropped his given Ethiopian name and taken on an Israeli name once he relocated and was enculturated in Israel.

It was very moving (watch with Kleenex nearby!) to see these young men come to terms with what their lives would have been like had they stayed in Ethiopia. Some of them dealt with their feelings of connectedness to one culture more than the other. Some saw relatives and friends left behind in villages many years prior. All seemed to be changed for the better by their trip back to Ethiopia.

As an adoptive mom, it was fascinating for me to watch. Although my sons didn't leave their country for the same reasons, I imagine that they will be faced with some of the same feelings one day when we return to Ethiopia for them to connect with the place they were born.

I highly recommend taking an hour to watch this film, if only to have a glimpse into how a fairly recent even in world history has impacted a handful of Ethiopian-born young men.

1 comment:

The Busters said...

I had never heard of this. thank you so much for posting about it. I will definitely watch it, with kleenex! :)