Born and raised in Haifa, Israel, Rebecca Avera is the daughter of Jewish refugees from Ethiopia. She considers herself both an Israeli and an Ethiopian.

By Sergio Carmona |

Rebecca Avera moved inspired college students who keenly listened to her tell the story of “The Jewish Ethiopian Journey to Israel” at Florida International University.

This recent presentation by guest speaker Avera, who is the Israel Fellow at Stanford University Hillel and the daughter of Jewish refugees from Ethiopia, was hosted by Hillel at FIU.

When asked in an interview on what she hopes students could take away from her presentation on the story of her Ethiopian community in Israel, Avera, responded: “They can get awareness about the black Jewish community that exists in Israel.”

“It’s a complicated situation that the Ethiopian community has in Israel. We have success and some achievements but also, with the protest we had last year, it’s also to create awareness about that,” she noted. “When I first arrived in the United States in 2013, I realized that a lot of the Jewish communities in this country never saw a black Jew so I think part of this is to expose them to something that is the same like them but also different.”

Rebecca Avera was born and raised in Haifa, Israel along with her siblings. Her father immigrated to Israel in 1979 after enduring years of anti-Semitism in his native Ethiopia, entering the country via Cyprus, while her mother came to Israel from Ethiopia during “Operation Moses” in the 1980’s. “Operation Moses” was the covert evacuation of approximately 8,000 Ethiopian Jews from Sudan during a famine in 1984.

During her presentation, Rebecca Avera mentioned that she considers herself both an Israeli and an Ethiopian. She shared the story of how her mother walked hundreds of miles across the African desert until she reached Sudan, where the Israel Defense Forces whisked her to Israel during Operation Moses, which is often compared to the Jewish exodus from Egypt. She said she basically grew up hearing her mother’s stories and mentioned that before leaving Ethiopia, her family couldn’t leave their home with a symbol of Judaism and could only practice their religion in their home. She said that the family felt they couldn’t stay in Ethiopia and left to make aliyah.

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