Earlier this month, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Our Savior (Medhanealem), located at 490 Riverside Drive in New York City celebrated its annual Ethiopian Cultural Day. Close to five hundred individuals was on-hand to observe this high-spirited cultural show headlined by the Children of Medhanealem. Medhanealem has been serving the Ethiopian community in the metropolitan area of New York City since 1984.
Getenesh Gebremeskel, Chair Woman of the Parent Committee at Medhanealem explained the goal of the event as to expose the young ones born here or those who come to America at an early age about their ethnicity. “Language in itself is not enough,” she said. This annual celebration aims to enrich the cultural experience of the children through the dances of the various ethnicities in Ethiopia. The theme of the event was the celebration of the Ethiopian culture through dance and food.
Medhanealem’s success during this event is not measured by the vast number of people that attended but rather the way in which it has left a lasting mark on the children who took part. Not only have they exposed the children to the rich Ethiopian culture, but that culture is now engraved within them wherever life may take them. By learning the different dances, by wearing colorful attires, Medhanealem has taught the children to embrace their culture.
Apart from having numerous events such as this, Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Our Savior offers lessons in Amharic and the Bible every Sunday. There are three classes distinctively named after the colors in the Ethiopian flag Green, Yellow and Red. The classes are divided by age and the Red class, the oldest children, is required to attend church service once a month. Parents are involved in the Sunday teachings and act as facilitators. There is one teacher for each class. While Medhanealem has many goals for the future they are limited by the number of rooms that are offered to them at Riverside Church.
There is much to be said about Medhanealem and the feel of community whether it is during one of its celebrations, or attending a service. The presence of togetherness is undeniable. Many of the children that attend the church easily feel at home. Here they can catch up on their Amharic lessons, socialize with their peers and continue to connect with their heritage.
On Saturday June 14th, the fundraising committee of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Our Savior will present the Ethiopian Summer Festival. Headlining this event will be Elias Tebabel who will be accompanied by Teklu Eshete. Tickets are available at $25 in advance and $30 at the door. This November Medhanealem Church will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. For more information please contact Getenesh Gebremeskel.