Children of Jerusalem: Gesho

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Children of Jerusalem: Gesho
Children Of Jerusalem Gesho VHS cover.jpg
Directed by Beverly Shaffer
Starring Gesho
Release date(s) 1996
Running time 25 min.
Language English, Hebrew

Children of Jerusalem: Gesho follows a thirteen-year-old Ethiopian boy who was one of 14,000 refugees to flee the warring African nation in hopes of finding a better life in the Jewish State of Israel. This 1996 documentary short is one of a five-part series directed by Beverly Shaffer. She explores Israel’s holiest city through the eyes of its children.


The Children of Jerusalem series examines serious political issues through the gentle exploration of a child’s life and without an overt agenda. As Gesho shares his nostalgia for the garden he left back in Ethiopia and his determination to succeed as a professional soccer player in Israel, his story of assimilation comments on Israel’s Ethiopian population at large.

Through his turbulent childhood, Gesho has seen war, poverty, and physical danger, but he speaks about his life with an ease that belies the hardships he’s faced — and overcome. He listens innocently as his older brother tells him about their long and dangerous exodus from Ethiopia to the Holy Land, which separated him from his family for seven years. While most adults would be shocked by such trying stories, the little boy accepts his family’s fate with grace.

Years later, Gesho is still excited by the electricity and running water in his family’s trailer, which were luxuries he hadn’t experienced in Africa. In fact, the little boy had to leave school after the sixth grade to help his father work their farm. He doesn’t say it directly, but there’s no doubt that Gesho feels fortunate that he now has time for school, and that he can spend his spare time becoming a stellar soccer player.

As the upstart athlete whizzes around the soccer field during practice it’s clear that his inner strength and determination have contributed to his ranking as the number two player on his intermediate team. At his young age, he already knows how to challenge himself and focus in order to improve. With excitement and determination, Gesho has little doubt that he will succeed, and with his infectious optimism, it is sure to carry him a long way.

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