Ethiopian writer added to national literature curriculum
In a first for an Ethiopian scholar, the Ministry of Education has added a short story written by an Ethiopian author to the upcoming literature curriculum of the new school year; 'Every Jewish community is unique and it is very important to give expression to the cultural characteristics and experiences of each community.'
The Ministry of Education is continuing to implement recommendations made by the Biton Commission by placing the book “A Dream at the Price of Honor,” in the literature curriculum for the upcoming school year.
The book is the story of Girma Mengistu, a communications professor, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia. It describes with humor and drama the journey of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the yearning to see Jerusalem, and the difficulties in the process of absorption in Israel.
Up until now, the story has not been taught in the education system. But the story will be incorporated into the curriculum of both junior high and high school and will even be a part of matriculation exams this coming year,.
Dr. Mengistu said, “I am very happy they've decided to teach the short story I wrote about Beta Yisrael going to Jerusalem in schools. This short story is a picture of an important moment in the history of the Ethiopian community and opens a window through which the children of Israel will be able to look at us and see our longing to go to Jerusalem and live a free and meaningful life. The story of the Ethiopian community is a part of the story of the Jewish people, but every Jewish community is unique and it is very important to give expression to the cultural characteristics and experiences of each community. The decision of the Ministry of Education to include this story gives a place of honor and recognition to the Zionist side of the community.”
Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, described the book as “a wonderful description of the vast Zionist journey our Ethiopian brothers endured on their way to Israel. From this day, all Israeli students will learn about the incredible journey Ethiopians undertook and the difficulties which they had to deal with during absorption. This is how to correct injustice, this is how to tell a whole story.”
The inclusion of the book to the literature curriculum joins an updated study itinerary in history as well, which includes material on the history of Jews in Islamic countries.
This is the first time in three decades—since the wave of immigration from Ethiopia—that the Ministry of Education is including a piece written by an Ethiopian writer into the curriculum. This move comes after a summer of protests and conclusions drawn from a commission headed by Director General of the Ministry of Justice Ami Palmor. The commission recommended, among other things, the inclusion of textbooks related to the Ethiopian immigration in an effort to foster a sense of belonging to Israel.