Pnina Tamano-Shata (b. 1981) was born in Wuzaba, Ethiopia, the granddaughter of a renowned Ethiopian rabbi. When she was three years old, her family fled Ethiopia due to civil war and famine. Israeli Hercules planes rescued her family in Sudan and brought them to Israel in a secret mission known as Operation Moses, which brought 8000 Ethiopian Jews back to their ancestral home. (Another 14,000 were brought in 1991 through Operation Solomon.) Tamano-Shata and her family spent several years in an immigrant facility before settling in Petah Tikva. From age 11, she worked to support her struggling family, and in high school was placed in the gifted program. After completing her military service, Tamano-Shata enrolled in law school. She was the president of the school’s Ethiopian Student Union, and was a noted social justice activist. After graduating, she became a reporter for Israel’s Channel 1. Five years later, she was covering a protest by Ethiopians in Israel and instead of reporting with the bias that her bosses asked for, joined the protesters herself. This inspired her to quit the media and enter politics. She joined the Yesh Atid party. When the party won a surprising 19 seats in the 2013 elections, Tamano-Shata became a Member of Knesset. This made her the first Ethiopian woman to hold a Knesset seat. She worked tirelessly for equality and affordable housing in Israel. Although she lost her seat in the 2015 elections, Tamano-Shata is still a vocal activist, role model, and an important leader for the 150,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel.
Words of the Week
The truly righteous do not complain about evil, but rather add justice; they do not complain about heresy, but rather add faith; they do not complain about ignorance, but rather add wisdom. – Rabbi Avraham Itzhak Kook
Haile Satayin, a.k.a Ayele Seteng (b. 1955) was born in Ethiopia. He immigrated to Israel in 1991 as part of ‘Operation Solomon’, when 35 Israeli Air Force and El Al aircraft amazingly transported over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in just 36 hours. The secret operation was launched in response to the collapsing Ethiopian government, and subsequent rumours of war and attacks on Ethiopia’s Jews, known as Beta Israel. In Israel, Seteng pursued his dreams and became a professional long-distance runner. He soon won a number of Israeli national championships, then moved on to international competitions, and competed all over the world. In 2004, he represented Israel at the Athens Olympics, and at nearly fifty years of age, was the oldest track athlete there. Four years later, he qualified again for the Beijing Olympics, making him the oldest runner once more. He nearly made it to the London Olympics in 2012, too, despite being 57 years old. Of this he has said: “My age is old, but my heart is young.” His Tel-Aviv half-marathon (21 km) time of 1:03:43 and Venice Marathon (42 km) time of 2:14:21 are still Israeli records. The father of seven children, he has won 31 national titles, and holds the record for being the oldest person ever to compete in a IAAF World Championship. In 2011, an Israeli documentary, Seret Ratz (“Running Movie”) was made about him.
Pharaoh commanded his people: “Every son that is born shall be cast into the River” (Exodus 1:22). The Nile was the mainstay of the Egyptian economy and its most venerated god. Therein lay the deeper—still relevant—significance of Pharaoh’s decree: Today, too, Jewish survival depends on our ability to resist the dictum that children must be submerged within an educational system whose focus and goal is the attainment of a “career” and “economic success…” – Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe