- Series: Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society (Book 13)
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press (December 7, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520219015
- ISBN-13: 978-0520219014
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.4 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Hyena People: Ethiopian Jews in Christian Ethiopia (Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society) 0th Edition
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"A fascinating book on an intricate subject: the relations on different levels (social, economic, emotional, psychological and symbolic) between the Beta Israel and their Christian Ethiopian neighbors, in whose midst they lived as a generally tolerated, but also feared and distrusted, minority. . . . Not only does Ms. Salamon convincingly portray a community deeply Jewish in its posture toward the outside world, she also paints a picture of fragile Jewish-Christian co-existence that, undermined by circumstances, could easily have led to the eruption of serious anti-Jewish violence and persecution. Psychologically and emotionally, the Beta Israel, whatever their origin, were Jews in every respect. They left for Israel not a moment too soon."--"Jewish Forward
From the Back Cover
The Jews (Falasha) of northwestern Ethiopia are a unique example of a Jewish group living within an ancient, non-Western, predominantly Christian society. Hagar Salamon presents the first in-depth study of this group, called the "Hyena people" by their non-Jewish neighbors. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with Ethiopian immigrants now living in Israel, Salamon explores the Ethiopia within as seen through the lens of individual memories and expressed through ongoing dialogues. What results is an ethnography of the fantasies and fears that divide groups and, in particular, Jews from non-Jews.
Recurring patterns can be seen in Salamon's interviews, which thematically touch on religious disputations, purity and impurity, the concept of blood, slavery and conversion, supernatural powers, and the metaphors of clay vessels, water, and fire. The Hyena People helps unravel the complex nature of religious coexistence in Ethiopia and also provides important new tools for analyzing and evaluating interreligious, interethnic, and especially Jewish -- Christian relations in a variety of cultural and historical contexts.
Top customer reviews
My only critique of the book is in the author's somewhat cliched "academic" response to the Beta Israel's spiritual beliefs. Like most Western textual analysis, the author downplays any claims to legitimacy in the Beta Israel's "animistic" or "superstitious" beliefs, choosing instead to explain them away with rational pseudo-psychological explanations. Sometimes these explanations are plausible; sometimes they seem more like a desperate attempt to "colonize" or "own" the Beta Israel's experience by virtue of being able to dissect and explain it. At these junctures in the book, I think it would have been more appropriate of the author to simply let the stories speak for themselves, and let the reader draw their own conclusions.
That said, it is still an excellent book and I'm glad the author did the no doubt difficult work of compiling these stories. Hopefully, we will see more work like this before the generation that was part of this Exodus passes.