September 20, 2012

Trapped in slavery

Cry of the Giraffe
by Judie Oron

In the early 1980s, thousands of Jews, who called themselves Beta Israel, or "House of Israel",  tried to flee religious persecution in Ethiopia. Israeli emissaries advised them to seek shelter in Sudanese refugee camps, where they would be spirited out to Yerusalem by planeWuditu and her family risk their lives to make this journey. In the camp, she and her sister are separated during a raid, and both sent back to Ethiopia. Afraid that they will be never make it to Israel, 13-year-old Wuditu decides to look for the faranj, the foreigners, who will help them. But alone, and with no food or shelter, Wuditu barely survives. She eventually finds work as a servant, only to find herself trapped for two years as a prostitute and slave. When the villagers discover that she is a falasha, a hated Jew, her life is in danger until a stranger arrives to rescue her.

Based on real events, Wuditu's story is told with harrowing, unflinching brutality. The author, Judie Oron, writes in a journalistic style that provides some needed distance from the pain of Wuditu's life, without diminishing its importance.  A disturbing book.

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