Emmanuel Taamrat (1888-1963) is one of the first young men belonging to the Beta Israel (Falashas), brought from Ethiopia to Europe by Jacques Faitlovitch in order to be “regenerated by Western Judaism.” After two years spent in Paris, he was sent to Florence in 1906 where he studied with rabbi Margulies at Collegio Rabbinico in Florence. He remained in Italy for thirteen years because of the First World War and in 1919 he went to Palestine and after to Ethiopia. He spent most of his life as director of the Falasha school in Addis Abeba but in 1937 he was obliged to flee to Egypt after the attempt to assassinate General Graziani because of his well-known opposition to the fascist regime. He helped the Ethiopian resistance and was appointed by Hailé Selassie on his coming back to Ethiopia as President of the Committee of Public Education. In 1948 he was sent to Paris as cultural attaché at the Ethiopian embassy. He was influenced by Italian socialist and anarchist important figures and ideas before the rise of Fascism. As a very free and independent individual he suffered from his condition of being double colonized, by western Judaism and by Italian occupation. He was colonized by Italian Jews and western Jews and subject to the strong authority of Faitlovitch and by the Italians during the Italian occupation. But he was also profoundly fascinated by European Jewish culture and by Western thought and Italy’s language and customs. His own life could be another representation of the idea proposed by Albert Memmi of a colonized and colonizing Jew. He died in Israel.

issue 19 / June 2021 by Emanuela Trevisan Semi

This paper analyzes how the Zionist discourse on shelilat ha-galut – “the denial of the diaspora,” or rejection of the image of the exilic Jew, which also implies removal from the culture of the country of birth in the diaspora – is prominent in Hebrew literary works. Whereas this discourse remains very complex in Ashkenazi writers, we can identify even greater challenges and disparities in the output of writers of Moroccan and Ethiopian origin who left the countries of their birth and in whose work “at home” seems to be the very country of exile. In these writers, we find a self-distancing from Israeli reality and from identifying with the “Israelis.” This is a reversal of the exile-vs.-redemption discourse, with Eretz Israel now as the country of exile and the country the writer has abandoned, previously deemed the land of exile, as the homeland. These writers have left a homeland, a supposed land of exile, only to arrive in a promised homeland which becomes even more of a land of exile, and makes them yearn for their former exile. In this article I will restrict myself to analyzing Avne shaish tahor [Stones of Pure Marble] by Herzl Cohen, Asterai by Omri Tegamlak Avera and Ha-derekh li-Yrushalaim: reshit ha-‘aliyah me-Etyopyah u-qelitatah (1980) [The Road to Jerusalem: The Beginnings of the Aliyah from Ethiopia and Its Absorption (1980)] by Yilma Shemuel.

issue 16 / December 2019 by Emanuela Trevisan Semi

Across Legal Lines

Jews and Muslims in Modern Moroco

issue 13 / August 2018 by Emanuela Trevisan Semi

In this article 1 we debate whether nostalgia for an idyllic past such as that left in the memory of Israeli Jews of Moroccan origin, a past denied by official Jewish narrative and now re-surfacing in the creativity of second generations, is shared by the Muslims who have stayed in Morocco. In the face of Morocco’s post-colonial historiographical silence, it has been questioned how much has remained in the collective memory of Morocco, given a Jewish presence evidence of which continues to be found in Morocco in the form of spaces, objects and places of ritual. The article discusses the results of research carried out in 2005-2009 in the city of Meknes, in the course of which were interviewed both those who frequented Jews, especially until the 1960s-70s, when Jews were still numerous, and also young people who had barely the opportunity to meet them. In particular we highlight the aspects of such memories shared by both Jews and Muslims as well as the divergences.

issue 04 / November 2012 by Emanuela Trevisan Semi