Avishai Mekonen

Seven Generations

In this punky, intellectual comedy, Dan explores the relationship between citizen, empire and sexuality in modern America and Maccabean-era Judea."


Jan 11, 2012Avishai Mekonen’s Film Premieres in NYC!
New York City

Aug 31, 2010Avishai Mekonen at the Center for Humanities
Philadelphia, PA 19122

The NY Fellows

Clare Burson
Gabrielle Brechner
Alina Bliumis
Galeet Dardashti
Dan Fishback
Ofri Cnaani
Andrea Dezso
Dan Safer
Avishai Mekonen
Saar Harari
David Griffin
Jeremiah Lockwood



Seven Generations is a photography and video installation that offers a view into an ancient Ethiopian Jewish tradition that is grounded in the past but keeps an eye to the future.

This project creates a living commentary on the contemporary state of Ethiopian Jews’ assimilation juxtaposed against what is being lost with the passing of older generations. The ritual of counting seven generations of ancestry ensures generational continuity and that Ethiopian Jewish history will not be lost.

When two people want to get married, the elders of the community count each person’s family history back seven generations to check that they are not related. If there is any relation, they are not allowed to get married.

The stories of legendary Ethiopian Jews like the kessim (rabbis), as well as stories of all ancestors, were preserved in this way. Portraits and documentary-style photographs spanning the youngest to the eldest generations of Ethiopians Jews, alongside companion sound recordings of their counting, praying, and music create a visual and aural portrait of this powerful tradition.

Seven Generations was presented at the JCC in Manhattan from February to April 2009.

Yeganyahu Avishai Mekonen emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel in 1984 as part of Operation Moses, and has worked as a photographer and filmmaker on projects investigating issues of race and identity.

A section of his documentary film project, “Judaism and Race,” is part of “The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography” that originated at the Jewish Museum, NYC, and has traveled to the Skirball Museum, L.A. and the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.

His award-winning documentary work has been broadcast on Israel’s Channel 1 and has screened at many festivals in Israel, Europe, and the US, including the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, the Jerusalem Cinemateque, Haifa Jewish Film Festival, Makor, and the International Competition Documentary Festival, Czech Republic.

He has lectured on the subject of Ethiopian Jews in the U.S. and in Israel both independently and through the NY Israeli Consulate. He holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Tel Chai College of Haifa University/Hebrew University.

Contact Info:


April 7, 2009

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April 16, 2008