"The Name My Mother Gave Me" is a film about growth and self discovery. We follow Ethiopian and Russian Israelis who meet at a leadership training program in Israel. Their year of learning culminates in a journey to Ethiopia where the Ethiopian born participants return to their native villages and confront their roots. Though, back home in Israel, all the participants would consider themselves members of the fringes of Israeli society, in the highlands of the Ethiopian landscape they discover the universality of their experiences and their shared commitment to their new home in Israel. How will this journey transform them?
Written & Directed by: Eli Tal-ElProduced by: Eli Tal-El – Tal-El ProductionsLanguage: Hebrew & Amharic with English subtitlesSponsored by: Avi Chai FoundationCo- Produced with: IBA Channel 1- Israel
Must See Movies & Documentaries article from the blog of MochaJuden:
"As the national director for educational instruction and professional development at Beit Yatziv in Beer Sheva, I am convinced that this is a film that all educational professionals –and especially principals need to see. THE NAME MY MOTHER GAVE ME is very moving and raises many questions and issues regarding identity, education and Israeli society."
Dr. Oded Avisar, National Director of Educational Development,
Beit Yatziv, Beer Sheva
The Name My Mother Gave Me
A group of Israeli adolescents—mostly Ethiopian with a handful of Russians—are taking a pre-Army trip to Ethiopia. The visits are personal: One boy goes to see his mother, from whom he’s been separated for 14 years; the group stops at an abandoned synagogue, which bolsters their feelings of Jewish authenticity; their native Amharic becomes more fluent. The trip helps the Ethiopians reconcile their Israeli and Ethiopian identities and makes them better accept their Ethiopian heritage. It also leads to greater amity and understanding between the Ethiopians and Russians.
—Z.S./Hadassah Magazine, June, 2009
Israel Today, February 23, 2009
Eli Tal-El's film is the story of a group of youngsters from a training course who travel to Ethiopia together. Only about half of the group are from an Ethiopian background, but when they return from their journey, all of them feel like they belong to one big family – the family of Israel. "And you'd better watch out if you say that there are no Jews here" sums up the trip one if the participants who was born in Moscow.
So identity was found, the pride was restored and the group was drafted into the IDF. In the most moving scene of the film the director of the program sobs as he recalls the challenges of getting the program off the ground: "do you know how they were in the beginning? Russians over here and Ethiopians over there". It turns out that they needed to travel all the way to Africa in order to create a unified group – because what you see in Gondar is not what you see out of the window at the training center on the Israeli costal plain. In Africa the group was amazed by the natural beauty. One of them yell: "You're home man – there's no place like Ethiopia". After returning to the villages of their birth, meeting relatives and imagining life in an Ethiopian village, the youngsters realize that their real home lies somewhere else. Many prayers and tears later, they return to that home. Uri Ayalon even reverts to his former-and original name- Gasua, while his Israeli identity is in tact. And the triumph belongs wholly to the director of the film Eli Tal-El.