Avishai Mekonen

Avishai Mekonen

Yeganyahu Avishai Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses, and has worked as a photographer and filmmaker on projects investigating issues of race and identity.

400 Miles to Freedom, a documentary film executive-produced by Be’chol Lashon, is about Avishai’s dangerous journey from Ethiopia to Israel to the United States. In 1984, the Beta Israel–a secluded 2,500-year-old community of observant Jews in the northern Ethiopian mountains–began a secret and dangerous journey of escape. Co-director Avishai Mekonen, then 10 years old, was among them. In the film 400 Miles to Freedom, he breaks his 20-year silence about the kidnapping he endured as a child in Sudan during his community’s exodus out of Africa. This life-defining event launches an inquiry into identity, leading him to African, Asian and Latino Jews in Israel and the U.S.

Avishai’s other work includes Seven Generations, a photography and video installation that offers a view into an ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition that is grounded in the past but keeps an eye to the future. Also in collaboration with Be’chol Lashon, a section of Avishai Mekonen and Shari Rothfarb’s documentary film project, Judaism and Race, is part of “The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography” that originated at the Jewish Museum in New York, and has traveled to the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

Articles

No posts by this author.