Drawn from Water: An American Poet, an Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story

Lecture | March 2 | 6:30-8 p.m. |  Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life (2121 Allston Way)

 Dina Elenbogen

 Center for Jewish Studies, Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, Near Eastern Studies

What do we mean by home? In Drawn From Water, American Jewish writer Dina Elenbogen explores her thirty-year friendship with Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel as they struggle in a new country while dealing with her own desire to join them there. Thirty years ago, Operation Moses airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, where today they and their descendants form a community over 100,000 strong. Through the stories of the children—Osnat, Elad, and their siblings—Elenbogen raises questions about religion, assimilation, and cultural identity. The author’s poetic voice examines immigration in all its forms, success and failure, adaptation and resistance. Black Ethiopians suffer discrimination, and are hindered by cultural and language difficulties, yet the children eventually attend college, marry, and have families of their own. Dina’s personal journey parallels theirs, but poetry and the arts give her a bridge between her life in America and her desire for Israel.

Dina Elenbogen, an award winning poet and prose writer, is author of the memoir, Drawn from Water: An American Poet, An Ethiopian family, an Israeli Story and the poetry collection Apples of the Earth. She has received poetry and prose fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Ragdale Foundation and the Evanston Arts Council. Dina has a MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago Graham School where she received the 2012 Excellence in teaching award.

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