I met Shmuel Beru in 2008 when he first came to the States to premiere his film titled "Zrubavel". I don't believe the film is in wide release, or at least not in the States, but it is an award-winning, heart-warming, honest, and unsentimental depiction of an Israeli Jew of Color (JOC) told from the perspective of an Ethiopian filmmaker who grew up in Israel, and currently lives and works there.
Like the movie "Live and Become", which gained wider release and acclaim because of the accolades it received at various international film festivals. It is my hope that Zrubavel, based upon the acclaim and recognition it has garnered over the past two years, will achieve similar heights of exposure.
I am attracted to this film on a number of levels, but as the daughter of a Pan-Africanist, I am particular sensitized to the struggles people of African descent are engaged in on a daily basis. The lives depicted in this film, could easily be the lives of any young, Black American male, in any major, urban, metropolis area in the United States.
Replace the Hebrew dialogue with any inner-city American dialect, minus the Ethiopian cultural nuances and traditions, and the characters in this film and the challenges they encounter, are the same that many Black American youths, particularly males, face in trying to navigate within American society.
Zrubavel, adroitly depicts the difficult lives of Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel in the 1980's through Operation Moses. The movie provides us with an unvarnished glimpse into the harsh realities of refugees and immigrants. Much like the disillusionment that many European immigrants experienced upon relocating to the States during the early part of the twentieth century.
Often what is dispersed through oral tradition and myth, for example, "the streets will be paved with gold", "the land will flow with milk and honey", and "all our sins gonna be washed away, and we are gonna be white as snow", is subsequently debunked through real life experience. Like the Black American slaves before them and the European immigrants who passed through Ellis Island; the Ethiopian Jews have struggled for the past twenty years to reconcile their dreams and myths with the reality of life in Israel.
For those who follow this blog, they will have noticed there are a number of themes that are explored throughout the various mediums posted. The issues, concerns and experiences of Africans living in the diaspora features prominently, and in particular Jews of Color, are topics that are considered from numerous perspectives. I believe many of the problems that human beings encounter with regard to our ill-treatment of each other is based on ignorance and fear, which through education can be ameliorated, if not totally eradicated.
A less combative and more instructional tone has been adopted in this blog, because both the victims and the victimizers are culpable to varying degrees, in the negative interactions that are continuously perpetrated and reinforced. In order to break this cycle, we must raise our voices, transparently share our personal histories and stories to enable people to experience on a personal level the feelings and emotions that inhabit all human beings.
It is our responsibility, each man, woman and child, to utilize our skills and talents to practice Tikkun Olam. We must not fear judgment nor reproach, for in honesty there is freedom, and with unwavering bravery once we bare our true selves to each other and the world, we can transform from chrysalises to butterflies.