A Roll and an Egg

Jewish Children - Gondar, Ethiopia July 2019. Photo by the author
Jewish Children - Gondar, Ethiopia July 2019. Photo by the author

As the Ethiopian Civil War bleeds across the border into Gondar province and Addis Ababa where Jewish families await permission to join their fellow Jews in Israel, I can’t shake the aching in my head. Well over 1,100 Jewish children under the age of five, many malnourished, languish in hunger and risk of permanent disability.

Save for something we could provide.

A roll and an egg.

Prices have spiked, says Joe Feit of the U.S. Based organization that seeks sufficient funds to save these children, Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry.

Twelve cents for a roll. Twenty cents for each egg.

A WhatsApp message from Getasew Fasikaw, the 22 year old “Communar” (head teacher) for four years at the Bnei Akiva Jewish studies program in Addis pings on my cellphone in Connecticut. He says, “Our family is in a difficult situation.” He attaches a photo with friend Melkamu Nega, age 23.

Getasew looks much too thin.

“We want to learn and want to work to help our family.” Getasew says.

“Can you help us?”

WhatsApp buzzes with another message from 27 year old Dr. Masresha Dessie in Haifa, apart from his wife Beza and four year old daughter Yan for three years since he made Aliyah from Ethiopia on his own. Planning to begin his cardiology residency at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and working long hours assisting surgeries in Haifa now, I wonder if he should consider other options. What other countries could use his skills? He says: “The Tigray region crisis has arrived in Addis Ababa…my family is in extreme danger. Please help us.”

My synagogue’s morning minyan says Kaddish for Dr. Dessie’s father Dessie ben Alemnesh who died in Ethiopia before he could make Aliyah. Killed by bandits in Gondar.

The good doctor writes once more, begging calmly to save his remaining family: “Please do your best. As much as you can.”

While in war-torn Ethiopia, the voices of children trapped in a conflict not of their own making, cry out for the simple nutrition they need to live another day.

About the Author
Neal H. Brodsky, a family and somatic psychotherapist, writer and activist lives in Connecticut near NYC. A contributor to the 2021 Routledge International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play & Play Therapy, he is affiliated with the Israel Center for Self Transformation. Originally trained as a script writer, his career includes ten years writing grants supporting families in subsidized housing, more than a decade in marketing positions at major U.S. public television stations and programming management at HBO. Neal curates @onejewishfam (One Jewish Family) feeds on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. He serves as a Board Member of ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
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