How A Brave Woman Rescued An Ethiopian Slave
04/17/13
Staff Writer
Photo Galleria: 

Traveling around Ethiopia in late 1991, at the end of the African country’s civil war, was unsafe for anyone.

It presented special risks for a woman traveling alone, a foreigner, a white person in the northern hilly region on a mission of mercy.

Judie Oron, a Canadian-born resident of Israel who had worked for the Jerusalem Post and had taken up the cause of Ethiopian Jews having problems getting to Israel, was in Ethiopia in 1991 to find one particular person – Wuditu, a 17-year-old Ethiopian Jew.  Wuditu’s family had already managed to make aliyah and had not heard from her since leaving their homeland; they weren’t sure if she was still alive. Oron, who had taken Wuditu’s younger sister into her Jerusalem home, had done research and had reason to believe Wuditu was living as a slave in a northern village.

“If she’s alive … she couldn’t be living a very good life,” Oron thought.

So she went to Ethiopia by herself, as an Amharic-speaking visitor on a Canadian visa, located Wuditu through bribes and street-smarts, paying 500 birr ($111 then) to free the teen. With the help of the Jewish Agency, Oron managed to have Wuditu (she doesn’t give out the last name of the now-38-year-old Israeli) flown to Israel to join her siblings and desperately ill father.

 Oron tells the story in “Cry of the Giraffe”  (Annick Press, 2010), an account related through the eyes of Wuditu, who had become separated from her family as they tried to reach Israel via a refugee camp in neighboring Sudan. Forced to return to Ethiopia, Wuditu, homeless and penniless, eventually spent two years as a mistreated slave.

When Wuditu settled in Israel, Oron took her in, too.

“I’ve raised a slave,” Oron told The Jewish Week in an interview from Toronto, where she now lives.

After bringing Wuditu out of slavery, Oron helped rescue a few other Ethiopian Jews from their homeland. Now she serves as an anti-slavery advocate, speaking to Jewish groups and non-governmental organizations, warning about the ongoing, too-little-known problem of slavery in Ethiopia.

Wuditu, Oron says, is healthy (considering what she went through two decades ago) and working in “a helping profession.”

Oron has spent much of her own funds – her parents’ inheritance, and some of her savings – on her efforts on behalf of Ethiopian Jewry. Money well-spent, she says. “I don’t regret any of it.”

Steve@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

07/22/2014 - 08:04

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.

The writer is naïve, infantile, immature; there is poverty in Ethiopia and we all Ethiopians suffered civil war because of Egypt's and Arab conspiracy to destroy our country. I lived in Gonder, Tigrai, Eritrea, ... where there were bête Israel. There was no this kind of thing she is talking. They are Ethiopian and this is fabricated honestly to make money. This writer is an evil person who try to make money potraying herself or himself as selfless person. By the way people who do good things for others do not boast about it. This person is trying to bargain using Ethiopian Jews. Bete Israel never being discriminated in Ethiopia. All the problems they have faced is what all Ethiopians have faced and experienced. This shallow and immature does not know Ethiopians.

It is really amazing how this magazine called 'the Jewish week' kept this fiction for a long period of time. It just expresses the haterd and racist look of the owners of this blog. You just increase enemies of Israel by your racy stinging words. God truely loves Ethiopian as per the Bible.

Ethiopian people are the most humane people you would ever meet....just because the west is technologically advanced it does not mean they have high morals or humanity. FYI all the gross inhumane acts known in history was committed by the west not us.

This is a story created to sell a book. What a lie!

I don't think so. At that time i was grade 6 student at oromiya, away from my home land wolayta. At that time i didn't recognize the presence of slavery in any part of ethiopia. It was a time of war in north part & the then regime was free of any slavery comditions.

Ethiopia were a safe home for bete israelis for many years, even at a times when their relatives face mass extinction in nazi cumps, bete israelis relatively enjoying freedom in Ethiopian highlands. Becouse of deep rotted poverty here in Ethiopia, many works as a house maid to get means of living...but this nat slavery as the author of above article stated! I belive Ethiopia should get a slice of thanks for keeping bete israelis in well-being!

False and over exaggerated ! There was no such a thing but a drama

Slavery??? Slavery is abolished in Ethiopia long before her ignorant fore fathers changed their attitude.

The slavery part in this writing starts from the moment judie said she paid $111. am sure the people wuditu was living with might think they done a good thing sending her back to her family but the truth is this Canadian oldie sold her to the so called bete-isreal. I know a glimpse on why they hate Jewish people,,, our people are being mistreated for all their human rights which they used to have it in Ethiopia even if they were poor. we should all keep in mind that SLAVERY is

• n 1: the state of being under the control of another person [syn: {bondage}, {thrall}, {thralldom}, {thraldom}]

• 2: the practice of slaveholding

• 3: work done under harsh conditions for little or no pay

in it's dictionary meaning. and what the Canadian has done to wuditu resides in the exact dictionary meaning.
she is in control of wuditu and she is entitled a hero????
to all Ethiopian descendants whom rights to learn, gave birth and all the things democracy has given to you have been abiden by the isreal government and people , should ask yourselfs if you desrved the new advanced slavery and racism?
every one of you should answer this question. but as for the writer of the above column, try to unveile the truth on how Ethiopians are living.

starting from 1974 slavery vanished from ethiopia. The year 1991, the whole ethiopia, specially northern part was in full scale war.slavery at time was unthinkable. Niether the situation nor the time allows to be a slave master at time. Your story is not more than a joke. But know that you are conveying wrong ideas to readers. The funny part is canadian lady come to ethiopia in 1991 ( at the time when there was full scale war was decleared the govt) and rescued a slave. Even wuditu ( if actully there exisit) will ashamed of your story.

I find this article very racist. It is trying to seed its racist lies by saying that black Jews "Beta Israeli" are slaves. It also trying to use its American racist sycophantic mind-set that whites are the saviour of Blacks who cannot help themselves. We Ethiopians Jews know you. We know your racist views about our communities. We are not African Americans but we are the only true Jewish in the world. The land we stayed and the people we lived within Ethiopia not only loved us but we build a proto Judeo Christian culture which is unique in the world. The only county where the Jewish culture enshrined in popular and religious culture. We know you and your lies and what you are really trying to say. We are not salves and we never been. Our Ethiopian bothers never used contraceptive to control our community, they never denied us equal education and they never denied us equal treatment unlike you.

This is a fabricated story. There was no slavery in Ethiopia in 1991.

You don't need to fabricate such stories to feel good about yourself. There was no slavery in Ethiopia in 1991. Now you are trying to appear as a Messiah who saved the a woman from slavery. Shame on you!

Before I comment on this article, let me introduce myself. I am a 78 year old Ethiopian and a friend of Israel. Israel and Ethiopia have had long and healthy historical relations. Both nations are surrounded by potential danger and should watch each other's back.
I am now addressing my comments to Mr. Steve Lipman (Staff Writer) of the The Jewish Weekly (NY). The article entitled "How One Brave Woman Rescued An Ethiopian Slave" is ludicrous. It may be stylish to write derogatory stories about third world countries and may in the short run sell a few more papers, but this story is totally unsubstantiated, and disregards essential elements of journalistic ethics namely accuracy and objectivity.
I do not think the author has any idea of what slavery is. I suggest he should be sent to the nearest library to read about how black African slaves were treated in Brazil and the United States. How they are today treated in certain Middle Eastern countries.
There are no slaves in Ethiopia. This does not mean that Ethiopians, Eritreans or Somalis are not kidnapped, sold, tortured and enslaved, but never in their own country. Human trafficking is something we should condemn and fight against.
Let us now come the heroine - Judie Oron, a Canadian resident in Israel. Could she be looking for attention or acceptance by the Israelis and exaggerating if not fabricating the story ? The author, for reasons best known to himself, has built her up into a courageous single white women who in spite of untold dangers succeeds in her crusade to save a slave. Indiana Jones would look insignificant beside this giant.
I was a witness of the period in Ethiopia's history referred to as "red terror" during Ethiopia's Marxist revolution and 17 years of Military rule, when internal conflict which lasted for years and claimed more than a million lives. During this period not a single foreigner, to my knowledge, while or of any other pigment was touched or placed in grave danger.
There are many loop holes in Ms. Oron's fairytale. Why did Wubit no make aliyah with her family in the first place ? Why did Oron take Wubit's younger sister into her Jerusalem home ? cheep labor perhaps? This genius of a women, is supposed to have discovered Wubit after doing research. A she Sherlock Holms, sits in a library in New York or wherever she conducts research, she searches for a lost 17 year old and whoops !! not only did she discover her whereabouts but that she was also a slave ! "If she is alive.... she could not be living a good life" Oron says of course through the use of her superb analytical mind.
Not many village folks in Ethiopia or anywhere in the third world live like the affluent westerners. Slave are usually sold and taken far away from their villages and normal surroundings. How much was Wubit sold for and by whom? Why when she returned from the Sudan did she chose to go to the village where she might be made a slave, and not to the capital city or other major city like Gondar or Dessie. Why is it that not one word of what Wubit said was quoted in the whole article ?
Who was the author of this silly article referring to when he said "an Amharic speaking visitor on a Canadian visa " does Ms. Oron speak Amharic or was it another super detective Canadian ? Somehow, Wubit is located, through bribes and street smart operation - what rubbish, who did Oron have to bribe and why? What street smart activities were accomplished in a village with one dirt road. A slave would never be freed for as little as 500 Birr, this is the amount I used to pay my house maid monthly and in addition she had adequate accommodation, electricity, running water free of charge and exclusive use of WC in what is commonly referred to as servants quarters. Would you not think that a slave who would serve for years if not a lifetime, be worth a great deal more than USD 111 (500 Br.).
As an anti-slavery advocate, without doubt Ms. Oran will recover all the money she claims to have spent as a good Samaritan, all she has to do is establish a fake foundation and beg for donations. She will be very rich in no time.
Why does she not go to where human being are sold as slaves - on the Sinai desert bordering Israel or in Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia. Many Ethiopians, Eritreans and Somalis have perished in these parts in their quest for better pastures. The going price for rescuing an individual kidnapped, and sold to Arab salve traders in the areas mentioned above is between USD 30,000 and 40,000. MS. Oran has gotten away with USD 111 - she is an incredibly skillful women. I wish Wubit all the best.

Slavery in Ethiopia in 1991? Rubbish! I think this story in fabricated by someone who is utterly ignorant of Ethiopian history. We have done away with slavery long time ago. Conditions for rural women in Ethiopia, especially for women in northern Ethiopia, are tough. No doubt about that. But to claim the existence of slavery in Ethiopia in 1991is totally unacceptable. We were all poor, miserable and down-trodden, be it a Beta Israel, Amhara, Oromo, Tigre or Kimant, because we were in the front line of the so called 'cold-war'. But a slave? Bullshit. Try telling that to Wouditu!

Thank you!! Exactly my thought .

i was too young to remember what happened in 1991 but i don't believe this story one bit for starters how come a woman from Canada, with no ulterior motives, be roaming the Ethiopian streets after a civil war? we don't even that much Canadians here now, where we live in relative peace. OK lets say she was how can you expect me to believe that the same Ethiopians who provided peaceful safe living quarters for hundreds of years to all Jewish settlers in there land turn out to be slave masters of wuditu(which means the precious one in Amharic).Further more this sort of lies about my country and its people coming from a Jewish news paper is shameful after all Ethiopia and its people were safe heaven for jews where they were prosecuted in Europe and elsewhere. then you have the audacity to vlaim she was sold for 111$ shame on you we had outlawed slavery and slave trade long before 1991 please check your history.
now you want the world to believe that poor wuditu is living happily in the land of Israel, well lets see i have recently read a statement by the israeli government apologizing for using contraceptive methods against the jews from Ethiopia with out their knowledge, which is basically aganist evry human right. so please stop trying to distort history Ethiopia is a blessed land filled with wonderful people, try to show the true picture,

This is a great lie. What is true is my sisters and brothers suffering there b/c of racism, my sisters are steralised by ingekting diprovera without their knowledge. The other truth is most of my sistors and brothers went there just for better life as the other Ethiopians doing. We Ethiopians are GOD fearing people we have great respect for every human being .

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.