On this very special episode of Jewanced, Benny and Dan sit down with Naftali Aklum, CEO & Founder of Yerus Project, which passionately educates Israelis and the world about the unique story of Ethiopian Jewry. Recorded live at his home in the Negev city of Be’er Sheva, Naftali takes us on a journey through the mind-blowing history and heritage of this unique Jewish community, from its origins over 2,500 years ago arriving from Jerusalem after the destruction of the 1st Temple to the highlands of Ethiopia. We then hear the incredible one of a kind and deeply moving account of its harrowing aliya-immigration/homecoming to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel as pioneered by his brother, the legendary Mossad agent Ferede Aklum. Ferede’s heroic story is the basis for the Netflix hit movie Red Sea Diving Resort, for which Naftali consulted. Naftali then takes us through the present-day realities and challenges of modern life in Israel.

Together with Naftali, explore one of the Jewish People’s most unforgettable tales of overcoming hardship, realizing age-old dreams, and succeeding beyond all odds. Naftali’s story of learning to take pride in his own complex identity is the story of Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community. Finally, listen to Naftali share his personal views on the racial divide in the United States, Black Jewish American identity and some of the current challenges and obstacles facing Black Jews and the broader Jewish community in the U.S. today.

This episode is a part of a new collaboration with Tribe Herald, the premier media company focused on Jews of Color and those in the Jewish community whose unique needs and concerns are not always addressed by traditional Jewish media.

At Jewanced, we are all about exploring and seeking to understand Israel and the Jewish world from multiple and nuanced perspectives, and to challenge popular conceptions. Therefore, a platform that gives a voice to Jews of Color and those who feel marginalized by the mainstream Jewish community is one we are proud to collaborate with. 

After listening to the podcast, make sure to check out the feature article about Naftali and Jewanced on Tribe Herald later this week. www.tribeherald.com


The Power of One

The story of Naftali’s legendary brother Ferede Aklum. The book is available for sale through the Yerus Project for $35 (includes shipping).

View and listen to traditional Ethiopian Jewish music and prayers as sung by the community’s religious leaders, the Kesim.

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