Between 1977 and 1985, some 20,000 Ethiopian Jews left their homes in Ethiopia and - motivated by an ancient dream of returning to the land of their ancestors, 'Yerussalem' - embarked on a secret and highly traumatic exodus to Israel. Due to various political circumstances they had to leave their homes in haste, go a long way on foot through unknown country, and stay for a period of one or two years in refugee camps, until they were brought to Israel. The difficult conditions of the journey included racial tensions, attacks by bandits, night travel over mountains, incarceration, illness and death. A fifth of the group did not survive the journey.
This interdisciplinary, ground-breaking book focuses on the experience of this journey, its meaning for the people who made it, and its relation to the initial encounter with Israeli society. The author argues that powerful processes occur on such journeys that affect the individual and community in life-changing ways, including their initial encounter with and adaptation to their new society. Analysing the psychosocial impact of the journey, he examines the relations between coping and meaning, trauma and culture, and discusses personal development and growth.
'Gadi BenEzer presents a rich body of interview data on an understudied refugee group, Ethiopian Jews in Israel. His humane and skillful methods bring to light important details of the difficult journey itself which he successful demonstrates have a critical impact on the adaptation of individuals to their new surroundings. The book is a treasure. It is suitable for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students in the social sciences and social work as well as for those who work with refugees. ' - Kathie Friedman, University of Washington