Ester Rada's family history reads like a novel. Driven out of Ethiopia, their country of birth, by famine, Ester's parents escaped on foot to Sudan. They found themselves confined to a refugee camp in life-threatening conditions, and desperation set in until the God of their ancestors intervened. The Radas were Ethiopian Jews, and qualified to be airlifted out of Sudan in 1984 by the Israeli government, during Operation Moses.
Accepted for Aliyah, the Radas were granted Israeli citizenship and settled into a new life in Kiryat Arba, where Ester was born a year later. Kiryat Arba is situated near the outskirts of the West Bank, so life was politically volatile for young Ester but the family were surrounded by many other Ethiopian immigrants, and culturally she was stable and secure in the early years. Later on, at school, Ester no longer wanted to feel different, and so she learned to speak in Hebrew, and compensated for looking East-African by drawing attention with her lovely singing voice.
The rest, as they say, is history. A compulsory stint in the Israeli Defense Force led Ester straight into a professional career, after two years as a singer in a military band. Her unique, cross-cultural sound is a deep reflection of her Ethiopian heritage, with the added dimension of an Israeli birthright.
“It was confusing to have one thing at home, and something totally different outside, and I wanted to be like everyone else,” Rada says. Only now does she feel that all the pieces are in the right place.
Ester has a voice - there are so many Ethiopian-Israelis who do not. The common thread for all immigrants to Israel is wanting to 'absorb' or fit in - for Ethiopian-Israelis, with a different culture and different looks, and the added financial handicap of being a disadvantaged minority before Aliyah, fitting in is particularly difficult.
Consider giving a gift of love to help Ethiopian immigrants feel at home in the Land of Israel. Click here For only $15 you can purchase a nourishing food hamper today for a struggling Ethiopian family! * AND all summer, Israel Today will match your donation, providing a 'double blessing' to those who need it most.