Jewish people have a history of making art in spite of difficult conditions. The operas, songs and plays of concentration camps are famous examples. This quality is a Jewish quality and it did not matter whether the Jews were Polish, Hungarian or French. Similarly, it does not matter if they are African either. As the people of Kechene village in Addis-Ababa are forced from their synagogues and fight an uphill court battle for their right to live as Jews, they release a beautiful album of their worship songs. Beautiful Ethiopian melodies follow beautiful voice of cantor Demeke ben Engda who sings Jewish Ethiopian songs of faith, history and God.
Throughout the CD, there is a deep, resonating African bass. It gives the weight and difficulty of life and in Demeke’s voice, there is a sadness of loneliness of a people far from home. His sadness is beautiful and haunting. The CD is very Ethiopian and at the same time, the sadness and the feeling, is clearly Jewish. Another sign that you can take a Jew out of Israel but you can’t take Israel out of a Jew.
You can buy the CD for $9.99 and listen to clips of songs of the CD Temesgen on iTunes