TZFAT, ISRAEL - At a recent event held at the 500-year-old Ari synagogue in the Old City, in the northern Galilee town of Tzfat, 22 new olim were surrounded by proud mothers in traditional Ethiopian dress, family and friends, as their fathers aided them in taking on the religious garb of manhood - tefillin.
In the several week-long project, fathers and sons together constructed the two boxes that house the slips of sacred parchment, painted the two pairs of black leathers straps wound around forehead and forearm, and diligently learned the halachot (Jewish instruction) concerning the daily prayers and customs connected with the act.
The youth are currently housed at the IDF's klita (immigrant absorption) base in the mountaintop town, the ancient seat of the study of Jewish mysticism - kabbala.
The project and event were sponsored by The Jewish Agency for Israel, and the United Jewish Israel Appeal of Great Britain, with guidance by community rabbinic leaders who were on hand at the joyous ceremony.
In a moving ceremony, new Ethiopian immigrants donned phylacteries for the first time ever -- ones that they made themselvesAliyah