Friday, December 23, 2005


Original title Va, Vis et Deviens
In Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia), Hebrew and French with English subtitles as required

Since the history of the so-called Beta Israel was passed down orally throughout the generations, there is no way of knowing their true origins. Most scholars think they are decedents of the Jews who fled Israel after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, eventually settling in what is now Ethiopia. Many Christians and Muslims living there call them Falasha "the alien ones, invaders".

With no clear understanding of their actual origins, debates arose as to if their people were in fact “authentic Jews” and their “Jewishness” became an issue of examination. In 1972, Rabbi Ovadia Yossef, Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, made the following statement: “I have come to the conclusion that the Falsahas are Jews who must be saved from absorption and assimilation. We are obliged to speed up their immigration to Israel and educate them in the spirit of the holy Torah, making them partners in the building of the Holy Land.”

But first the Falsahas had to get to Sudan because the Ethiopian government would not allow them to emigrate. The large numbers of Jews crossing on foot into Sudan was taking a horrible human toll and creating dangerous conditions in the refugee camps. Israeli authorities realised that a large-scale operation was necessary.

Operation Moses thus began on November 21, 1984. Refugees were bussed directly from the Sudanese camps to a military airport near Khartoum. Under a shroud of secrecy established by a news blackout, they were then airlifted directly to Israel in Hercules C-130 transport planes with all the seats removed to accommodate the maximum number of passengers. Between November 21, 1984 and January 5, 1985, approximately 8,000 Ethiopian Jews came home to Israel.

Moshe Agazai: Solomon (Schlomo in Yiddish) as a child
Yaël Abecassis: Yaël Harrari, a liberal-minded Jew
Roschdy Zem: his wife Yarom, Schlomo’s adopted mother
Moshe Abebe: Schlomo as a teenager
Roni Hadar: Sarah, school chum who takes a liking to him
Sirak M. Sabahat: Schlomo as an adult

This is the story of a young boy who grows up struggling to fulfil his birth mother’s admonition: to "go, live and become". But he needs to figure out for himself, become what? The acting is uniformly top notch and the editing crisp.


The subtitles are written in pale yellow and often cannot be seen because they blend in with the background. Consequently anyone who relies on them will miss some of the dialog.

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