Avera hard at work on a painting. "My art reflects my Ethiopian heritage
and my Israeli identity."
November 30, 2009 / 13 Kislev 5770
"I will never forget my mother waking me in the middle of the night to tell me we were leaving for Jerusalem. I was only seven but I knew that Jews were not allowed to leave Ethiopia. From that night forward we were always in danger…until we made it to Israel, our homeland."
Assia Avera's Aliyah journey began when his mother woke him in the middle of the night with some startling news: his family would be leaving their little village in Ethiopia for Israel.
So it was that in 1986 the 12-year-old Assia, his parents, and his 12 sisters and brothers, walked for weeks across the scorching desert, fending off gun-toting bandits and rebels and enduring a disease-infested refugee camp in the Sudan.
"When we finally made it to our homeland, we knew that we were fulfilling the centuries-old dream of our people," said Assia, now 30.
Upon arriving in Israel, the Avera family first lived at a Jewish Agency absorption center in northern Israel. Soon after, Assia became a full-fledged Israeli. He attended a residential high school, a one year pre-college preparatory program, and he served in a combat unit in the army where he was promoted to the role of sergeant.
Today, Assia works as a police officer, but he dreams of becoming a full-time artist. Thanks to a scholarship from the Jewish Agency he was able to study graphic design and the arts in Tel Aviv. His drawings, which have been featured in art exhibitions, reflect his pride in his Ethiopian roots and his Jewish Israeli identity.
"My mother always tells us stories about life in Ethiopia and I am very connected to my roots," he said, "but Israel is the only homeland for the Jewish people."