My name is Eden Adler. I joined the Israeli army in 2010 and after 4 years of service, am now a Lt. (res) officer in the IDF's elite paratrooper brigade. I am from Kfar Vradim in the north of Israel. I began being filmed for Beneath the Helmet in 2013. Thanks to the movie, I understand the need for strengthening Jewish identity and Israel activism abroad.
Mekonen’s Story: The Global Dream to Belong
Jerusalem U is about to release a mini-documentary about the journey of IDF Lt. Mekonen Abebe. This film picks up on the story of one of the soldiers that we first met in the highly acclaimed documentary Beneath the Helmet during which Mekonen was a trainee soldier in the IDF's parachute regiment, under my command.
Mekonen: The Story of an Ethiopian Jew, presents both his history before joining the army as well as his process of becoming an IDF officer himself and I am really happy that Jerusalem U has made this film, and that I was able to be part of it, because I feel that Mekonen’s story is an important story to share.
It’s not just the personal account of a remarkable individual, it is also the collective account of an entire community, the story Ethiopian Jewry.
Mekonen's story is perhaps bigger than even than that of his community or of Israel - it is a univerals story, one that applies to any country grappling with the challenges of absorbing immigrants. It describes the process a person goes through to integrate into a new society, while still remaining true to his or her roots.
We see in this film that Mekonen goes through a journey which is being experienced by millions every day: The collective quest to belong; the desire to become part of a culture very different from the one you were born into.
Migration is a topic that is making headlines almost every day in Europe, in the United States, and around the world. I feel that Mekonen’s story can as an example for others trying to connect, and as an insight to the society that is welcoming them in.
What inspires me most about Mekonen and his story is his consistency and faith. He has an ability to carry on despite the many challenges he faced (which is what allowed him to transform into the remarkable person he is today).
Mekonen has faith both in himself and the world around him, and a burning desire to belong and succeed - something that was obvious to me when he was under my command, and I think that this faith is an obligation we all have – to believe in ourselves, and also in others; To give people hope and support by believing in their deep rooted potential.
Mekonen is now an IDF officer himslef, and I think his consistency can serve as a role model to all the soldiers under his command. For my part I feel that his dream was not just to become an officer, but to become a contributing member of Israeli society and by becoming a proud officer in the IDF, he demonstrated what it means to have a dream and make it come true.
Mekonen has fulfilled his dream , and his message, which comes through clearly in this moving film about him, is that if you want something badly enough, you can fulfill your dream too.
Please follow the Facebook page for Mekonen: Journey of an African Jew here. You will find news about Mekonen and the Ethiopian Jewish community, as well as information on screenings and events around the movie's release.