photoeSSay

the art of rebirth

adisia crafts hope for ethiopian women in afula
Yonit Schiller

presentensemaGazine.OrG COntents

issue three 2007

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Hundreds of miles away from the tribal huts and villages they once called home, the Ethiopian women of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) absorption center in Israel’s northern town of Afula are sustaining an ancient custom in modern society.

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issue three 2007

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Under the guidance of Afula’s WIZO director, David “Dudu” Moatty, twenty women are busy bringing the Adisia Project to fruition. “Adisia” is the Amharic term for “renaissance”—a fitting label for a project that aspires to both revive classic Ethiopian embroidery and re-energize the art form by pushing its traditional creative boundaries. Embroidering gives the women a chance to come to life. The act of creating art empowers them by producing tangible proof of their efficacy, ingenuity, and overall personal potential in Israeli society, as well as abroad. Indeed, Adisia’s purpose, according to Moatty, is to “help [the women] find their future.”

presentensemaGazine.OrG COntents

issue three 2007

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These remarkable women have endured much hardship. They fled from persecution and famine in Ethiopia, and upon their arrival in Israel, encountered difficulty assimilating, facing a language barrier and racism, among other obstacles. The incredibly endearing, yet astute, nature of the women of Adisia stems from their combined experiences of suffering in Ethiopia, followed by experiencing a major cultural shift once they immigrated to Israel. For these women, embroidery is also a social act, providing a safe space for them to share ideas and visions with women who have had similar life experiences. Adisia enables them to learn from and listen to one another in an open, comfortable setting. A new wave of excitement for Adisia is engendering a ripple effect in the international Jewish community. The World Diaspora Mezuzah project, spearheaded by international project coordinator Sharon Ungerleider, is helping to bridge the gap between the Ethiopian women and Diaspora communities. The women of Adisia are very excited to be creating embroidered Mezuzot with a variety of artistic motifs, fusing traditional Ethiopian embroidery style with the patterns and ethnic symbols associated with Jewish Diaspora communities around the world.

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issue three 2007

presentensemaGazine.OrG COntents

Ethiopian embroidery in Israel is much more than just an ancient art form. For these women of Adisia, embroidery is their outlet of artistic expression, their community, and their source of personal strength.
Yonit Schiller is a photographer based in Jerusalem

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issue three 2007

presentensemaGazine.OrG COntents

presentensemaGazine.OrG COntents

issue three 2007

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