THE ETHIOPIAN CONNECTION / by Shema`ryahu
I think people are fascinated with Habasha traditions because they are
to Temoni ones. Of all the groups of Yehudhim in the world, those two are
the closest to authentic. Unfortunately, the Beta Esrael did not remain in
posession of the Tora sheb'al Pei. You will find things that stand out, such
as the shamma and the shamle and the musical system of both groups. Also,
one of the traditions regarding the conversion of Habash (Abyssinia) is that
a Temoni colony (probably Haddani) brought Yahadhuth to Habash (and some
married in with the local population). The other tradition that I view as
valid is that the Beta Esrael are what is left of a Jewish Habash, converted
and settled by a few members of the tribe of Dan, led by the son of Shelomo
haMalach and Maqeda haMalka Sheva, during the time of the Beth haMiqdhash
haRishon - the same time that the Temonim date their community back too.
The same archaeological facts that prove the existence of Yehudhim in
alYaman during the time of the Miqdhash haRishon hints at a unified kingdom
of Sheba, stretching from the Horn of Africa (i.e. Habash) to Arabia Felix
(i.e. alYaman). That is why, given the option of being Sefaradhi or Temoni,
I chose Temoni, even though Maran Ovadhya Yosef shlit"a played one of the largest
roles in returning the Beta Esrael to medinath Yisrael.
I do not know exactly how ties between the two were severed, but it would
definitely have to do with the horvan Beth haRishon and the dispersion of
Yisrael (as opposed to Yehudha) by the Ashurim. The next time those outside
of Habash hear of the Beta Esrael are scattered accounts from the Middle
Ages (i.e. Eldad haDani and Yosef Toledano).
Old Sefarad (Spain) is where Ethiopia and Europe met for both Jew and Christian. Basically, there were Ethiopian Jews and Christians in Europe. In Iberian Europe (ie: mostly in Spain, Italy, and Portugal starting around 1200-1300's ce was a center of learning. This was different than Eastern Europe.