Menu JTA Search

Tafari, Abyssinian Emperor, Claims Jewish Ancestry

At least one foot of the Lion of Judah still rests upon an Eastern throne, and the wisdom of Solomon, imparted to the Queen of Sheba about 3,000 years ago and transmitted through her to countless generations of Ethiopian royalty, now flowers in the mind of Ras Tafari, Emperor of Abyssinia.

On Sunday, the handsome, thirty-five year old ruler, whose warm brown complexion is almost exactly the complexion of a Spanish Jew, was crowned Emperor of Abyssinia before an imposing assemblage of ambassadors from all the world powers. He now rules over a huge country many of whose peoples still live in the manners of Biblical times, and whose undeveloped resources are said to be the richest in the world. So rich, in fact, that Italy, France, and Britain are trying by every means to get a hand into it. But, blessed with the wisdom of Solomon, Ras Tafari has invited American capital and American engineers into his kingdom, and proceeded, in security of rule, to westernize his land.

Ras Tafari proudly claims to be a direct descendant of that royal son Menelek, who was born to the Queen of Sheba through her union with King Solomon.

A feature of the coronation was the presentation of the actual Lion of Judah, or at least a statue of the lion, which was the gift of the American Pro-Falasha committee.

The Pro-Falasha committee was formed eight years ago for the educational and religious rehabilitation of the Abyssinian Jews, called Falashas. Rabbi Israel Goldstein is chairman of the committee. The committee supports a school in Addis Ababa where, under the direction of Dr. Jacques Faitlovitch, young Abyssinian Jews are given instruction in handicrafts, hygiene, and sanitation, as well as in the traditions of Judaism and the Hebrew language.

Ras Tafari is deeply interested in the Jewish education of the Falashas, and in 1928 presented a sum of money for the purchase of a site for the school building. He also honored Dr. Faitlovitch with a decoration.

The Abyssinian Jews were discovered about 60 years ago by Prof. Halevi. Though lost sight of for centuries, they had preserved their Jewish traits, keeping the Sabbath and the Jewish festivals, circumcizing their male children, and conducting worship in houses of prayer. There are 50,000 Falashas in Abyssinia.

NEXT STORY