How on earth did the Beta Israel of Ethiopia survive? Their origins stretch back into the distant, unverifiable past, but their presence is certainly noted in the medieval period. How did they manage to retain their identity and culture, especially given their near-total separation from the rest of the Jewish world?

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The Kingdom of Axum was home to the Beta Israel, or Ethiopian Jews. Historical sources are sparse and difficult to interpret, but it is clear that the Jewish population extends back centuries. With the exception of the mysterious story of Eldad the Danite, we have few first-hand accounts of what survival was like for Jews in the region–at least until the late 20th century, when the population was severely threatened and amazingly rescued by the State of Israel.

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