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My Ethiopian Roommate

Bizu Rikki Mullu is part of a group known as Beta Israel, a community of Jews who developed 500 small villages in Northern Ethiopia. Rikki grew up in the village of Mauri with her parents and 8 siblings.

In the late 1970’s, at the age of ten, she was brought to Israel as part of Operation Begin, an early top-secret effort organized by then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Rikki was in the last group of 24 children allowed to emigrate. It took another decade before she would be reunited with her family in Jerusalem.

Mullu, a designer and artisan specializing in Ethiopian jewelry and Juadica, comes every year to the Zamir Chorale Foundation Music Festival to share her hand-made treasures with hundreds of participants.

This year RIkki was my roommate at the Festival. Now we are friends with a continuous connection. She is the friend that my heart needs for all time.

Today there are 160,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent because of the rescue operations that the Israeli government engaged in through Operation Moses in 1984 (8,000 Ethiopians) and Operation Solomon May 24-25, 1991 (15,000 in just 36 hours).

Rikki is the living evidence of those facts. She is a walking miracle and proof positive that human intervention redirects the trajectory of a person’s future for good.

Meeting Rikki makes me believe, once again, in the better angels of our nature. (Abraham Lincoln)

If you would like to learn more about the Ethiopian Jewish Community of North America, please visit


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