“Groundbreaking Leadership: Strength of Individual, Tenacity of the Community” – Yerusalem Forum Annual Conference
“Groundbreaking Leadership: Strength of Individual, Tenacity of the Community” is an annual conference, led by Forum Yerusalem (of which Beit Hatfutsot is a member), designed to commend various heroes of the Ethiopian Jewish community, exploiting their stories in order to expose the courage and determination of its members on their journey to Israel.
The immigration of Ethiopian Jewry is usually depicted from the perspective of the Israeli establishment. However, members of the community didn’t just sit idly by; they heroically acted to realize their age old dream of reaching Jerusalem.
This year the event was held at Beit Hatfutsot, and highlighted the legacy of Baruch Tegegne Z”l, an Aliyah activist, social leader and outstanding individual, who dedicated his life to the Ethiopian community.
In greetings sent by Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, President of the State of Israel, he stated, “Tegegne made the Ethiopian Aliyah his life’s work…..unfortunately, the history and culture of Ethiopia hasn’t yet received proper recognition within the pages of Jewish and Israeli history.”
The conference was attended by over 300 representatives from non-profit foundations and organizations, companies, municipal representatives, youth leaders, social activists, government officials, community leaders, donors, and foundation professionals. The remarkable event included: visits to the Museum’s New Wing with a focus on the exhibition “Operation Moses: 30 Years After”, a panel of guest speakers, and open discussions geared for the various groups in attendance.
Amongst the guest speakers were honorable Professor Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice, Adv. Ami Palmor, CEO of the Ministry of Justice, H.E. Tsegay Berhe, Ambassador of Ethiopia, Baruch Tegegne’s daughter, Yafa Tegegne, and Shmuel Yilma, founder and Chairman of the Forum Yerusalem.
“Baruch Tegegne was the match that ignited world Jewry and foreign governments including the USA, Canada and France, in order to recruit, and pressure the State of Israel to open its doors to Aliyah”, said Yilma. “The convention, marking the legacy of Baruch Tegegne Z”l, displays the community’s heritage through the story of his heroism and courage, in which is told the story of a community, a community which did not hesitate to perilously set out on foot to Sudan, with thousands of their brothers and sisters dying on the way to the Promised Land. Baruch Tegegne represents through his personality, dedication and courage, the heritage of the Ethiopian community, as an integral part of the Israeli story.”
Forum Yerusalem, initiators of the convention, was established for the purpose of presenting the narrative of Jewish Ethiopians in the Israeli story. It includes tens of organizations that deal on a daily basis with education, Jewish identity, bridging communities, social tolerance and more. All the organizations are committed to undertaking change, first among themselves, then in their target audiences, as well as to the general public in Israel.
“Beit Hatfutsot was designated by law as The National Center for Jewish Communities in Israel. We are proud to be members of the Forum and host the annual conference, geared to raise awareness and lead discussion”, said Racheli Kaplan, Director of Strategic Partnerships. “The wide variety of exhibitions and ongoing educational activities, reaching out to diverse communities, advances the concept that we are all part of The Story.”
Among the members of the Forum:
Bina, Maoz, World Zionist Organization, Beit Hatfutsot-The Museum of the Jewish People, The Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC), Fidel, Aharai! Follow me!, Council of Youth Movements in Israel (CYMI), The Joint Council of Pre-Military Academies (Mechinot), Gesher, Masa Israeli and more.