Hullegeb Israeli-Ethiopian Arts Festival 2019

Tesfa/Photo: Tal Penso

The Hullegeb Israeli-Ethiopian Arts Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary! A production of the Confederation House, under the artistic direction Effie Benaya, the festival will take place from December 19 – 24, 2019. The festival’s diverse offerings in music, theatre, poetry and spoken-word reflect the something of Ethiopian culture and the ongoing artistic dialogue between traditional and contemporary, Ethiopian and Israeli culture.

Hullegeb Festival Full Program:*

Opening Performance: Abby Lakew and Aregahegan Worash

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Hullegeb Festival opens with the Israeli premier of vocalist-songwriter-actress Abby Lakew. An Ethiopian-American, Lakew represents the new wave of Ethiopian artists who rest upon traditional Ethiopian song but continue to discover new musical worlds. Lakew will appear with successful veteran Ethiopian vocalist ; Aregahegn Worash, a much-loved guest in Israel, who has had a 35-year international career, and vocalist-saxophonist Abate Berihun, one of the founders of the Israeli-Ethiopian musical scene and the Hullegeb Festival.

This is Lakew’s first appearance in Israel. She was born in Gondar to a family with artistic inclinations. When she was 13 she moved to the US where, in 2007, she recorded her first album, combining traditional and contemporary Ethiopian songs in Amharic and in English. Since then she has appeared before Ethiopian communities around the world and in Ethiopia, where she starred in the popular film Eyerus. In 2017 Lakew released her second album, Yene Habesha, contributing all of the proceeds to an organization that operates shelters for the aged, disabled and homeless. Worash, a generation older than Lakew, has 11 albums to his credit to date and has collaborated with other great vocalists on four additional albums. Worash has an extensive international career that has brought him to numerous appearances in Israel.

Abby Lakew, vocals; Aregahegn Worash, vocals; Walid Saeed, keyboard; Abate Berihun, saxophone; Tsira, guitar; Joseph Westley, drums

Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem Theatre. Doors open at 19:30, performance at 20:30.

Orit Tashoma/Photo: Tadelas Art

Hashefa Bedalut – Orit Tashoma

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Vocalist and spoken-word artist Orit Tashoma will inaugurate her first album Hashefa bedalut at the festival. Tashoma, who wrote all of the songs and texts in the album, is assisted by the production talents of Eviatar Mintz and David Arbel, who join this performance, and combines elements from the realms of hip-hop, prayers of the keisim—the spiritual leaders of the Beta Israel community, and electronic music. In the album Tashoma performs Sliha ima etiopia, the song for which she became famous, which hosts saxophonist-vocalist Abatte Barihun. In that song she asks for the forgiveness of the Beta Israel community and her Israeli-Ethiopian identity for having neglected to give them a place in the western world into which she was born and raised as the daughter of parents who immigrated to Israel in 1984.

Orit Tashoma, words, melodies, performance; Eviatar Mintz, musical arrangement, keyboard; David Arbel, musical arrangement, IDJ; Vered Semani, accompanying vocalist; Daniel Harlev, bass; Eitan Rodman, trumpet; Nir Shtrik, drums; Guests: Aveva Dese, Rapper A.G.—Avraham Getahon

Yellow Submarine, Jerusalem. Doors open at 21:00, performance at 22:00.

Shirat HaAfro: The Ethiopian Woman in Israeli Poetry

Sunday, December 22, 2019

“The Ethiopian Woman in Israeli Poetry” returns to the Hullegeb Festival for the second consecutive year, after being featured in the Poet’s Festival in Metulla.
This collective constitutes a platform for artistic personal expression of male and female members of the Ethiopian community in all areas of stage arts. In the performance Shirat haAfro these male and female artists seek once again seek to deal with topics that, in the painfully political Israeli poetic dialogue, are generally ignored and left outside the agenda. They dare to bring dirty laundry to the poetic arena, in a primal, often unripe, loud and unmediated scream. They challenge our concepts and our art in relation to memories instilled in us related to the experience of immigration to Israel, and the myth concerning our shared fate in a country of new immigrants. “The Ethiopian Woman in Poetry” is art that speaks reality, but also offers a new reality—more encompassing, open and merciful.

Tamar Asenkao, Nani Baruk, producers and performance curators; Mimi Annanya, Tamar Asenkao, Janet Blay, Avi Getahon, Nani Baruk, Shlomit Baruk, Samert Haylo, Teshlawrok Sanbatu, artists

The First Station. 21:00. Admission free, on the basis of available space.

Tesfa (Hope): The Golden Age of Ethiopian Music

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The 1960s and early 70s are regarded as the “golden age” of Ethiopian pop music. It unfortunately came to an end with the rise to power of the military junta. During those years Ethiopian music absorbed a variety of influences from pop, rock and jazz, and local superstars such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete and Aster Aweke created a series of eternal hits that are popular in Ethiopia to this day.
Saxophonist and vocalist Abate Berihun, the  outstanding Israeli-Ethiopian musician, leads the Tesfa band. Tesfa means hope in Amharic. These young musicians present traditional-folk songs and melodies, combined with a tribute to the inspiration of the golden age. The ensemble translates the enthusiasm, the longing and the sense of joy in this music to song and dance that fill the heart and move the feet.

Abatte Barihun, saxophone; Masai Birheno, vocals, Nati Baltah, vocals,Zlalam Pishah, keyboard, Sayum Desa, saxophone, Ariel Moriah, guitar,Ben Idelstein, bass, Noam Charchi, drums

Confederation House. 19:00.

Ground Heights/Photo: Noam Chigonovsky

Ground Heights hosts Liron Amram—Ethiopian Groove

Monday, December 23, 2019

Ground Heights is an Israeli-Ethiopian band that combines the Amharic language and traditional rhythms from Ethiopia with new and modern songs that offer the authentic voice and sound of the members of the young generation of Ethiopians in Israel. The Ethiopian rhythms are given a contemporary, modern sound, rendering the bands performances colorful and danceable celebrations.  The members of Ground Heights aim to preserve their native culture while morphing it into original statements displaying the richness and power of Ethiopian language and culture. Hosted in the performance are musicians Liron Amram, regarded as the harbinger of the new wave of Middle Eastern music, which connects it to rock, pop, disco, electronic music and of course, the Yemenite music of his father, Aharon Amram, the leading vocalist of the Yemenite community.

Hewan Meshesha, vocals; Yotam Cohen, guitar, David Michaeli, bass; Lior Romano, keyboard; Michael Korkos, drums; Elad Gellert, saxophone; Guest: Liron Amram, vocals, guitar

The First Station. 21:00. Admission free, on the basis of available space.

The Light of Elmaz

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A moving and funny one-woman show combining past and present, telling the story of a mother and daughter, between Ethiopia and Israel. Elmaz’s recollections of the troubling journey from Ethiopia to Sudan remain with her daughter Or, in her fight against the racism in the community center near her home. The play seeks to bring to life the stories of the women, men and children who perished on their way to the Land of Israel but remain alive in the memories of their loved ones, and exposes the difficulties and complexities the community now faces in Israel. The play deals with current questions of Israeli identity, connection to one’s roots, the inter-generational gap, acceptance of the other and the struggle against racism.

Script and performance: Chava Teizu
Direction and dramaturgy: Ella Nikolaevsky
Set design: Shay Aharon

Confederation House. 19:00.

Omri Mor/Photo: Yossi Zwecker

Closing performance: From the Blue Nile to the Atlas Mountains – Shlomo Bar, Omri Mor, Abate Berihun

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Abate Berihun/Photo: Nir Shaananai

An Andalusian-Ethiopian performance at last year’s Hullegeb Festival created an encounter between pianist Omri Mor, who created a surprising and refreshing link between jazz and the Andalusian music of the Maghreb, and saxophonist and vocalist Abatte Barihun, the outstanding proponent of Ethio-jazz and Jewish-Ethiopian song in Israeli culture. In the new performance, Mor and Barihun expand the boundaries of African music: together with vocalist and percussionist Shlomo Bar, the Moroccan-born leader and founder of Habreira Hativit (Natural Selection), they connect the West African Andalusian roots of Mor’s work with Bar’s Maghreb folk music and Barihun’s Ethiopian jazz.

Omri Mor, piano, musical management; Shlomo Bar, vocals, drum; Abate Berihun, saxophone, vocals; Eliyahu Digmi, saz, plucked string instruments, Gilad Abro, bass; Amir Bresler, drums

Zappa Jerusalem. 22:00.

Tickets may be ordered from Bimot online: or call: 02-6237000/*6226

Additional information and links to ticket purchase may be found on the Confederation House website, or call 02-6245206, ext. 4. The Hullegeb Festival is made possible by the support of the Beracha Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Foundation.