Recently The Davis Academy Middle School community had the honor and privilege of hosting MK Shlomo Molla. Molla, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, is only the second Ethiopian Jew to serve in the Knesset. He visited us as a guest of the Israeli Consulate of the Southeast and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
MK Molla’s remarks focused on his personal journey from a small village in Ethiopia, to a prison and then a refugee camp in Sudan, and finally, to his Jewish homeland: Israel. He described the moment he told his mother that he intended to walk from Ethiopia to Israel, having never seen a map, a car, or an airplane. Eventually he and a small group of Ethiopian Jewish friends would walk more than 700 kilometers in 8 days from Ethiopia to Sudan. In Sudan they were tortured, imprisoned, and a member of their group was killed. After spending time in a refugee camp they were eventually part of an Israeli air force rescue operation that saw them safely to Israel.
After sharing his personal story of faith, courage, and survival, Molla shared about his work in Israel. He emphasized that the focus of his work is to close the gap between rich and poor in Israel, as well as to work on behalf of minorities, like Ethiopian Jews, Reform and Conservative Jews, and Israeli Arabs. He also emphasized that the international community must stand with Israel in opposition to Iranian nuclear weapons, as well as the important relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. He stressed the importance of learning Hebrew, of visiting Israel, and of caring about what happens in Israeli society.
At the outset MK Molla shared that he is the proud father of four children, and that he misses his children tremendously when he is traveling around the world on behalf of Israel. Our hope at Davis is that he felt a connection to our children, future leaders of the Jewish community and passionate supporters of Israel.
There were many lessons our students and faculty could’ve reflected on while listening to MK Molla. A few that endure for me are:
1) The power of an idea, the hold of a dream.
2) That to be proud of your country and critical of your country is not oxy moronic.
3) The conditions of our station in life are arbitrary, but what we do within the context of those conditions should be deliberate.
4) If we can respond to brutality with a renewed commitment to compassion and righteousness then we have triumphed over those who would beat us down.
5) Humanity is logically prior and ethically superior to race and nationality.