Celebrating a Decade of Cultural Competency: New Practical Uses for Old Traditions: The Ethiopian Case
It’s incredible that we’ve been leading efforts to increase cultural competency for the past 10 years. To celebrate, as we’ve described here and here, we’re hosting a series of lectures in partnership with the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital and the Jerusalem Foundation. The latest lecture was on Monday, October 15, 2018. In honor of the upcoming Sigd Holiday, which will take place on November 7, the lecture focused on the source of the holiday, and enabled a closer look at different traditions that the Ethiopian community in Israel brings to society. This community had been disconnected from the rest of the Jewish world for more than 2,000 years until coming to Israel, and still preserves its ancient traditions while also developing new ones.
The lecturer was Ms. Yuvi Tashome-Katz, who was born in Ethiopia and came to Israel via Sudan. Today Yuvi is a social entrepreneur and activist, with twenty years’ experience in community work and counseling, and today is a member of the southern city of Gadera’s city council. In recognition of her social activities, Yuvi was chosen to light one of the ceremonial torches on the 2011 Independence Day celebrations. Later that year she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiatives and Innovation and the Matanel Prize for Groundbreaking Leadership.
In addition to the Sigd holiday, Yuvi spoke about how women learned about womanhood and parenting from the ‘Women’s House’ – a place women stayed during ‘menstruation holiday,’ as well as for 40 days after birth. From a young age teenagers were shown how to care for babies, nursing, and more. Children were taught to strengthen their abilities, and tasks around the house and in the fields were assigned according to their abilities. In addition, information about medicinal herbs, nutrition and other health-related issues was passed along orally from one to another.
ALYN’s lecture hall was full to the gills, and the 50 members of the audience had a fascinating lecture. The participants were impressed by the sheer amount of knowledge the Ethiopian elders had, and how much knowledge Israeli society missed out on. Participants were enthusiastic to invite Yuvi back, to help them better understand how this knowledge can help the therapeutic process.
Many thanks to Yuvi, to ALYN, and of course, to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of cultural competency since its inception!