In 1980 the black Falashas in Ethiopia are recognised as genuine Jews. In turn they are secretly carried to Israel. The day before the transport the son of a Jewish mother dies. In his place and with his name (Schlomo) she takes a Christian 9-year-old boy. Upon arrival this second mother dies. Schlomo is adopted by a good family but remains depressed until he secretly sends a letter to his real mother. From the beginning he experiences large and small racist difficulties. In his teens he and Sarah fall in love. Her father is an extreme racist. Schlomo tries to gain "real Jewishness" by winning a competition in Bible interpretation. No change of Sarah's father's attitude. Disappointed he goes to the police and reports himself as not being a Jew. But the police officer just gives him a scolding. "The newspapers are full of that stuff, the Falashas are no Jews. Now they begin to believe it themselves." His adoptive parents send him to France to study medicine. When he afterwards marries ...Written by
Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Narrative Award Winner: 2006 See more »
They had been forgotten on their mountaintops, near Gondar. Yet, since the dawn of time, the Ethiopian Jews, known as the "Falashas", dreamed of returning to their homeland, the Holy Land, Jerusalem. With Israeli and U.S. Aid, a vast program was undertaken from November to January 1985 to transport the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The Falashas were returned and finally recognized as descendants of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. The Israeli secret service carried out the operation on the sly,...
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Fascinating, Moving Story of a Falasha
Twenty-four hours after seeing this extraordinary, multi-layered film about a boy who is airlifted out of Ethiopia and brought to Israel, I am still reviewing images in my mind and wondering at the courage and audacity that must have been necessary to bring this story to the screen.
Salomon was nine years old, living in a desperate refugee camp in Sudan. In late 1984, there was a covert Israeli-American operation to save Ethiopian Jews, known as Falashas, by airlifting them to Israel. The Falashas, are a small branch of the Diaspora. But as they lined up for their exodus, Salomon's mother tells him firmly to "go, live and become", the title of the movie. She saw in the exodus an opportunity for her son to escape the death, disease, famine and civil war that were ravaging Ethiopia. Salomon's mother would stay behind.
The trauma of being told by his mother to leave was already strong stuff. But there is more; Salomon is not even a Falasha. So the arrival in modern Israel is a double shock for him. However, Salomon becomes Schlomo, and we see that he is a quick learner. He learns Hebrew and, when he is adopted by a bi-lingual French-Hebrew family, he learns French, too.
However, Schlomo has a persistent and profound desire to see his mother again. He is wounded. On top of that injury, he has to deal with racism and bigotry in Israel, while hiding the fact that he is not a Falasha. Schlomo carries a lot of emotional baggage, but he has some good people rooting for him. Like the Yarom and Yael, the couple who adopt Schlomo, and Sara, the girl who has him firmly in her sights. The story of Schlomo's trials and tribulations is moving on several levels.
What makes this film audacious is that it confronts the question "who is a Jew". The answer is not self-evident. Indeed, the question has been the subject of impassioned debate in Israel for years. The Falashas are just one case study. It is simply remarkable that someone would make a film that touches on this issue. Bravo!
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