Yona Bogale

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Yona Bogale
Born 1908
Wolleka, Ethiopia
Died 1987
Petah Tikva, Israel
Nationality Israeli
Other names Yona Ben Neftali
Known for Ethiopian Jewish Leader
Year of Aliyah 1979

Yona Bogale (1908–1987) was the first leader of the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel.[1]

Biography[edit]

In the 1920s, Yona Bogale was sponsored by Jacques Faitlovitch to study abroad. He spent two years in British Mandate Palestine, four in Germany, one in Switzerland, and one in France. After returning to Addis Ababa in 1932, he taught in the Faitlovitch school, eventually becoming the principal.[2] During the Italian occupation, he went into hiding to avoid the persecution of educated Ethiopians.[3]

After Ethiopia regained independence, Bogale worked as head of the translation department in the Ethiopian Ministry of Education for twelve years. Then with the Jewish Agency, Bogale opened and supervised more than 20 Jewish schools in Ethiopia.[4] In 1955, Bogale and Taamrat Emmanuel became the lead advocates for the Beta Israel community in the wake of Faitlovitch's death.[5]

Bogale left Ethiopia in late 1979 and immigrated to Israel with help from the American Association for Ethiopian Jews. Bogale then began consolidating support for the Beta Israel to make aliyah. Notably, on Nov. 15, 1979, Yona Bogale, Zecharias Bogale (his son), Rahamim Elazar and Baruch Tegegne travel to the General Assembly of the Council of the Jewish Federations in Montreal.[6] Bogale spoke during the plenary session to the 2,500 North American Jewish leaders in attendance. Following his presentation, delegates passed a pro-Beta Israel resolution – becoming the first major Jewish organization to support saving the Ethiopian Jewish community.[7] Five years later, the first wave of immigration began with Operation Moses.

Legacy[edit]

Bogale was fluent in Hebrew, English, French, Italian, German, Tigrinya as well as Amharic.[8] He was the author of an early Hebrew-Amharic dictionary. In the 1950s, he introduced the Beta Israel community Hebrew-Jewish calendar.[9] Bogale was an early proponent of Ethiopian Jewish praying in Hebrew instead of Ge'ez as he felt that it was no longer appropriate for those seeking to be a part of the broader Jewish community. He did feel though that the Ethiopian Jews should set Hebrew prayers to the Ethiopian Jewish melodies to preserve some liturgical traditions of the Beta Israel community.

Death[edit]

Bogale died in 1987 in Petah Tikva. His burial was attended by over 4,000 mourners including, then Speaker of the Knesset, Shlomo Hillel and held at the Givat Shaul Cemetery.[10]

Appearances[edit]

Bogale's work is depicted in a 2009 Israeli documentary "I had a Dream - The Story of Yona Bogale" by Teztee Germay.[11][12]

Honors[edit]

In 2007, the Rehovot City Council voted to name a local school after Bogale.[13][14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 'Ethiopian Herzl' finally receives recognition 20 years after death". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Yona Bogale Dead at 79". JTA Jewish News Archive. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Bohlman, Philip V. (2008). Jewish musical modernism, old and new ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 114. ISBN 0226063267. 
  4. ^ "Yona Bogale Dead at 79". JTA Jewish News Archive. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Kaplan, Ruth Westheimer ; Steven (1992). Surviving salvation : the Ethiopian Jewish family in transition. New York u.a.: New York Univ. Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0814792537. 
  6. ^ "Yona Bogale Dead at 79". JTA Jewish News Archive. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Lenhoff, Howard M. (2007). Black Jews, Jews, and other heroes : how grassroots activism led to the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews. Jerusalem: Gefen Pub. House. p. 116. ISBN 978-9652293657. 
  8. ^ Wagaw, Teshome G. (1993). For our soul : Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0814324585. 
  9. ^ Bohlman, Philip V. (2008). Jewish musical modernism, old and new ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 117. ISBN 0226063267. 
  10. ^ "Yona Bogale Dead at 79". JTA Jewish News Archive. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "7th Annual Sheba Film Festival". 
  12. ^ "I Had a Dream". Jewish Motifs. 
  13. ^ "The 'Ethiopian Herzl' finally receives recognition 20 years after death". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "Ethiopian Israelis take their education - and fate - into their own hands". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 May 2013.