I have to say that the book seems like it was yritten for teens. However, it is an extreemly interesting book on many levels. I wanted to put down the book and complette Planet India. However, I was drawn into the story and could not put down the book.
The book opens with a description of Jewish life in Eithiopia. Jews lived mostly in the Gondar area, but also in the Tigre region where the author lived. The Jews lived seperately due to historic persecution but there was commerce between people of different faiths.
The book is very critical of the Mengistu regime and for good reason, it was brutal.
Jewish agencies in the West sent aid to to their bretheren in Eithiopia. The author's Uncle started a Hebrew school in the region and was imprisoned by the Commies for having Zionist sympathies. Despite the protestation of poultry anti-semitism seems to be a universal Communist hang up. The Uncle escapes prison with the aid of in laws and makes a near impossible journey to Sudan crossing desserts loaded with bandits, rebels and wild beasts.
The Uncle makes it to Khartoum and contacts the Jewish agencies. The agencies place him in contact with some American Jewish agencies running an Underground Road. The Uncle becomes a leader of this Underground Railroad and sends a messenger to his family that he is alive and well in Sudan and that transport is waiting for them.
Unexpectedly his ancient mother decides to be the first group to make the trip.
The groups seem to go on foot from Jewish village to the next Jewish village and then into Sudan. In Sudan they are given plane tickets to Athens and then from Athens to Jerusalem.
The story moves into the next phase where the kids were treased and sometimes attacked. However, after two years of idiocy they were accepted. The author's father
did suffer in an industrial accident.
The end of the book has the author and some of his peers returning to Eithiopia. They encounter only one Jewish family still remaining. They never do get to see the Lost Ark that is allegedly in a Christian monastery.
On a human level Jewish people have turned the quest for Jerusalem into something with almost Utopian overtones. However, any persecuted people will tend to do this. On a human level the story of Exodus has been co-opted by Black American Slaves, Maori and some claim Native Americans. Much as in life there is no Utopia or Eden and life in Israel has its own set of challenges.
Do note that while the Eithiopians have a nostalgia for their villages, they do not seek to return home. The term Falasha is considered a slur akin to foreign landless peasant. The Eithiopians are no longer foreigners and they have found their natural home.
It is a very entertaining book and inspirational on a human level. The book has two drawbacks on of them being it is very short. Some of us also will not read what appears to be a young adult book. If you can find the book and you do not mind those obstacles it is a very interesting experience on many levels.
Beamish in 08