Tesfanesh Seplow (13) is a vibrant 8th grader living in Los Angeles, California with her brother and her two moms. Tesfanesh and her brother Elsae, were adopted from Sidama, Ethiopia in 2010. It took her moms three years to finalize the adoption. They finally got the call that they were a match for two siblings. The orphanage brought them to Tesfanesh’s village to meet her family, and eat with them before taking them back to the U.S.
Although Tesfanesh is adopted there is a possibility she came from Jewish roots in Ethiopia. The papers they got from the orphanage from Tesfanesh’s biological uncle, said that her and her brother came from a family of a denomination of Catholicism. She told me that this sect of Catholicism doesn't exist in Ethiopia, so her uncle could have been hiding the fact that Tesfanesh and her brother are actually Jewish.
Tesfanesh and her family attend an LGBTQ synagogue, a diverse community where members are free to express themselves.
“I feel like Judaism is very open to people sharing their experiences especially Rabbis. They’re so open to people talking to them about Judaism and their differences. My Rabbi isn’t afraid to say what Jews did wrong,” Tesfanesh said.
I asked Tesfanesh why she loves being Jewish.
“I think the values and the way that you can express it,” Tesfanesh said. “There’s no right or wrong in Judaism, there’s always a variety of answers.”