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Ethiopian Jewish comedy by: Leslie Bunder
FILED UNDER SOMETHINGISRAELI >> Arts & Entertainment

Yossi Vassa
Yossi Vassa

As project Operation Promise puts the issue of Ethiopian Jews back on the agenda, the story of one man and how he made it to Israel is a story worth hearing.

"It Sounds Better in Amharic" is a production that started life in Israel and has toured across the United States and Canada. It tells the story of how an Ethiopian Jew went from Ethiopia to a refugee camp in Sudan and then ended up in Israel.
 
Through humour and satire, it's a moving story about not just getting to Israel but then trying to integrate with Israelis. And of course, Amharic being the Ethiopian language is routinely referenced and does indeed, sound better when explaining things than English or Hebrew.
 
Performed by Yossi Vassa who was born in Ethiopia, he arrived in Israel in 1985 at the age of 10.
 
He recounts his experiences, life growing up and explaining how Ethiopian names changed into  more Israeli-sounding names. Vassa himself was born Anda Argi before becoming a Yossi. He also recounts the story of a girl from Ethiopia who was given the name Levana, which is actually Hebrew for white.
 
At a school boy, he was always looking to perform for a number of reasons. "It was our way of getting back at the teachers and also my ploy for getting their attention," he says.
 
When touring "It Sounds Better in Amharic" outside Israel, it is performed in English and has won rave reviews. Being honest about his situation and explaining his life is a way to raise awareness of Ethiopian Jewry both for his own community as well as others
 
He says; "In the end we in the Ethiopian community must try to succeed. To learn our history and not forget it. To try always to contribute in our own way. And no matter what country we are in we can relate to each other."
 
For more information: www.nepheshtheatre.co.il/amharit_index_en.html



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