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As long as our supplies last, NACOEJ will provide embroideries on a first-come, first-served basis.
All of our embroideries were handmade, so no two are alike, and they vary in exact dimensions. The embroideries are each approximately 14 inches by 16 inches, except for the wall hangings, which are 22 inches by 10 inches.
The NACOEJ Embroidery Program began in 1990, before Operation Solomon, when thousands of Jews were trapped in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, waiting for permission to leave for Israel.
Since no jobs were available to them, the NACOEJ responded by developing a work program to enable the heads of Jewish households to support their families. The program utilized traditional Ethiopian skills performed by both men and women and to produce work of which they could be proud.
And so, the NACOEJ Embroidery Program was born. For 14 years, the NACOEJ Embroidery Program enabled up to 1,000 heads of Jewish households in Addis Ababa – men and women- to earn money for their families by producing beautiful works of art of which they were justly proud.
Each individual who was part of the embroidery process supported a family with his/her earnings, in a city where unemployment is very high.
About the Program
As members of a needleworkers’ co-op, embroiderers who were heads of households were commissioned in the NACOEJ compound in Addis Ababa to create pillow covers, challah covers, matzah covers, table runners, wall hangings, hand-woven tallitot, and custom-ordered chuppahs, as well as synagogue art. There are about 40,000 stitches in each piece, and most workers took a month to complete an embroidery. The extraordinary folk-art designs show traditional Ethiopian Jewish village scenes, illustrations of familiar Bible stories, and visions of Israel.
This program also provided employment to the purchasers of cloth and thread, the tailors who sewed the backings on, the launderers who carefully washed every piece before it left for America, those who packed the finished article for shipping, and those who kept the records and inventory.
Though the program is now finished , NACOEJ purchased all of the embroideries that were created. The embroiderers and other workers have already been paid in full. And when you receive embroidery now, your funds will still go to help the Ethiopian Jewish community.