Ambover Village: This was once a thriving Jewish village in northern Ethiopia. Unlike other places in the world, Jews flocked here from other villages to live together and build their own isolated community. Not a ghetto,not a shtetl. This was a choice these Jews made to maintain the purity of their deep, religious beliefs. The synagogue and school remain and the village is occupied today....but the Jews all left. Jerusalem was their holy goal.
All along the way to Ambover, young children ran beside our vehicles waving and yelling “Money, Money”. This was hard to see and hear. The countryside of farms and thatched houses made of whatever could be found, is exquisitely beautiful, the fresh air soft and delicious. The poverty I witnessed is beyond disturbing. In a way I felt very uncomfortable....what am I doing peeking into their lives without their permission like some kind of voyeur.
This road trip was a glimpse into a distant past for us....but a present time for these people. No running water or electricity, few vehicles, no modern farming tools. People were walking many kilometers to and from market, carrying heavy loads on their heads and backs. Some had malnourished donkeys to help shlep their slim bounty. Babies were carried on the mothers’ backs. Many were dressed in the traditional white robes, ghost like figures wearing rubber shoes and sandals, carefully stepping between loose rocks. Some wore no shoes at all.
Next post: More about Ambover Village and introduction to Micha Feldmann, “Abba Micha”, as the Ethiopians affectionately and respectfully call him.
Miriam Seiden is a cultural explorer who loves to write about her living bridges around the world.