Stories in Motion: Operation Moses

Stories in Motion engages participants with epic pieces of Israel’s history through creative movement and physical expression. As participants bring to life the story of Operation Moses through movement, the story of the Ethiopian Jewish journey leaves the page and finds resonance in the hearts and minds of the participants.

Curriculum Themes: 

Materials Required: 

Program Duration: 

Physical Space: 

Number of Campers: 

Age of Campers: 

Core Learnings: 

Ethiopian Jews endured difficulty and danger during Operation Moses to get to Israel
Israel's Mossad (Intelligence and special operations) agents endangered their lives in order to save the Ethiopian Jews during Operation Moses
Israel plays a large role in rescuing and absorbing Jewish communities in crisis


1. Background information about Operation Moses

Share the following information with the group:

In the 1980s the situation for Ethiopian Jews was extremely difficult. They endured terrible famines, the rapid spread of disease and increased pressure to stop practicing their religion under the dictatorial, communist regime of Colonel Marian Mengistu. To save them, Israel executed rescue missions, the first of which was called Operation Moses. Operation Moses began on November 18, 1984, and ended six weeks later on January 5, 1985. In that time, just over 7,000 Ethiopian Jews were rescued and brought to Israel.

Tell the group that they will now have the opportunity to learn more about operation Moses through the reflections of the Mossad agents who carried out the mission. 


2. Studying the Text:

Partner Study/Chevruta:
Divide participants into pairs and have them read the text “Operation Moses: Personal Reflections of Mossad Agents.” Each pair receives three different colored highlighters and uses different markers to highlight characters, actions, and emotions respectively.

Group Discussion: Participants analyze and reflect upon the story as a group.

Guiding Questions:
*How would you describe Operation Moses from the perspective of the Ethiopian Jews?
*How would you describe Operation Moses from the perspective of the Mossad agents?
*Why do you think Israel sent the Mossad agents on this mission? Do you agree with Israel’s decision to do so—why or why not?

3. Dancing the Text
Role Assignment: Facilitator leads the group in creating a list of the characters in the story, along with their actions and emotions (a sample list is provided in the supporting documents). Characters can be human as well as inanimate objects. Participants choose characters from the story such that each participant has at least one role. They are asked to begin creating movements that express their character’s actions and emotions. 

Costuming: Participants create costumes for themselves from white bed sheets or other material scraps. Facilitator provides markers, scissors, and safety pins along with the material.

Dance Creation: After creating movements for their particular role and getting into costume, participants dance their movements as a group while the facilitator reads the text. This is repeated two or three times in order to help the movements coalesce into a cohesive dance. Then the narration ceases and the dance is put to music with the story being told without words. 



Larger groups: In order to accommodate larger groups, multiple people can dance each role and choreograph their movements together. 

Older groups: The closing discussion can include questions about Israel’s role as a Jewish state, such as:

*Do you think that all Jews should automatically be welcome citizens of the State of Israel?
*Do you think that Israel should actively search for remote Jewish communities and bring them to Israel?
*Do you think Israel should risk the lives of its soldiers to help bring other Jews to Israel?

Music Options: Here are examples of Idan Raichel songs to use during the activity, but most of his other songs would work as well (preferably ones with Amharic):

1) Tigest
2) Shoshanim Atzuvot
3) Brong Faya
4) Mi'ma'amakim
5) Bo'i
6) Ayale
7) Brachot Leshana Chadasha

Background Cards: 

Supporting Materials: 


Dalia Davis