Azrieli’s Shmuel Legesse Envisions a Brighter Future for Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish Immigrants

For doctoral candidate Shmuel Legesse, the journey to Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration has not been easy.

Fulfilling his father’s wish, Legesse served as an Israeli police officer.

Fulfilling his father’s wish, Legesse served as an Israeli police officer.

As a child growing up in the poverty-stricken town of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, life was full of hardship and danger for Legesse. But it was also full of dreams—specifically his father’s dream, as magistrate, to help his family and all the Ethiopian Jews in their town make aliyah [immigration to Israel]. “My father was a very strong Zionist,” Legesse said. “But he also cared deeply about his people and had the ideology of a leader, almost like Moses. He would say, ‘I can’t go to Israel myself until all of my people have made it there.’ ”

Sadly, Legesse’s father never achieved that dream. On his deathbed, however, he made Legesse promise to keep fighting for it. “He told me that we all needed to make aliyah and that if we wore Israeli uniforms and protected Jerusalem, it would bring happiness to him in heaven,” Legesse said. Read the rest of this entry…

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