Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Religious Studies

Reader 1

Gaston Espinosa

Reader 2

Troy Mills

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@2023 Brian F Loudermilk


This senior thesis investigates the history, religious practices, and experiences of Beta Israel, the Black Ethiopian Jewish community. It begins by examining Ethiopia's religious history, focusing on the relationship between the Christian majority and the Jewish minority. The study highlights the evacuation of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel during the 1970s-1990s, drawing parallels to a modern-day Exodus story.

The thesis then explores the life of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, addressing their initial arrival, culture shock, racism, and unique religious practices. The final chapter delves into the religious practices of Ethiopian Jews and ancient Israelites, discussing connections between the two groups and the broader question of authentic Jewishness. By examining Beta Israel's unwavering faith and commitment to their covenant with God, the study challenges the common view that most Jewish people are of Semitic origin and argues for the authenticity of Ethiopian Jews. In essence, the resilient faith of Beta Israel embodies the religious ideals of ancient Israelites.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.