On “Black Work” by Ehud Banai

On “Black Work” by Ehud Banai

In this early classic, Banai protests the treatment of Ethiopians on their arrival to Israel.  He famously asks: “And who knows if Abraham was not black?”

The title of the song, “Black Work” refers to the limited opportunities for Ethiopian immigrants in the Israeli workforce. Can you think of similar examples of this in America? What sorts of projects and initiatives might alleviate the situation?

Key Point: As a whole, Israeli society has completed the long journey of achieving statehood and constructing a political and social environment governed by Jews; however, the journey toward truly becoming an inclusive and unified society that belongs equally to all Jews is difficult and ongoing.

They dreamed for years about home and now it is real

Even at home it happens – the Exile continues

  •  In what way do you think Israel’s Ethiopian Jews are still in Exile? Is this idea unique to the Ethiopian situation in Israel or could it be expanded to others?
  • Shula Mula, an Ethiopian Israeli, activist and educator says: “the return to Zion is incomplete for most of our community. One kind of journey finished. Another journey, no less long and difficult and painful – is still before us.” In what ways is the journey that she refers to both the journey of Ethiopian Israelis and of Israeli society as a whole?
  • In the song, Banai says:   “they kept the faith; Yes, they awaited the call”: Ethiopian immigrants dreamed of the day when they would live in Zion.  Although they have literally moved to the land of Israel, metaphorically they are still on the outside of a culture that they cannot understand and a community that does not make it easy for them to succeed.  They have their own rich and beautiful tradition which is no less legitimately Jewish than those of other Jews in Israel, but they are isolated and excluded because of their differences.

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