The Schmooze

Ethiopian Jewry's Journey, in Dance

On October 14 at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, California, at a performance for 400 middle school students from six different Bay Area Jewish day schools, the members of the Beta Dance Troupe seemed to defy the laws of human kinetics. Their shoulders pulsed, their heads bobbed and their elbows flapped, while their lower extremities jumped, glided and leaped in fluid motion.

Coinciding with the recent 25th anniversary of Operation Moses and the upcoming holiday of Sigd, which Ethiopian Jews observe 50 days after Yom Kippur to celebrate the acceptance of the Torah, the performance was part of a current U.S. tour with stops in New York, Connecticut, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles. The seven dancers’ seemingly impossible combination of movements, melding traditional Ethiopian shoulder dancing (Eskesta) and contemporary, innovative choreography, expressed the unique identity of young Ethiopian immigrants in Israel, illustrating the sense of both displacement and possibility that Ethiopian Jews experienced as they were absorbed into Israeli society.

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Ethiopian Jewry's Journey, in Dance

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