Photographer: Gil Rouvio

For every Ethiopian, be they Jewish or Christian, Jerusalem is a very special place: heavenly, majestic, enchanted. Rather like the music of Abatte Barihun, one of Israel’s greatest Ethiopian musicians.

A sax genius who is known as the John Coltrane of Ethiopia, Barihun studied at music school in Addis Ababa, joined the Ethiopian military band, led a successful jazz band, and collaborated with Ethiopia’s greatest vocalist, Mahmoud Ahmed. And all this before the age of 30.  

In 1999, he followed his family and moved to Israel where, like most of Israel’s Ethiopian community, he suffered terribly before finding his place. For many years he could not break into the Israeli music industry. He worked washing dishes, injured his hand, and almost had to give up playing. But then, by chance, a few local musicians found Barihun and put him back on stage. He has since composed, played, sung in a number of different bands including Ensemble Ras Dashen, Ensemble Tezeta, and  Coloma, and even collaborated with Ariel Zilber, Eran Zur, East West Ensemble, and others.

In a specially created production for Mekudeshet, Barihun will play and sing original pieces, new arrangements for Jewish prayers and hymns and move between Addis Ababa, New York and New Orleans with natural virtuosity directly from the heart of Zion. The performance will open with an a capella session by a group of Ethiopian kessim (religious leaders), continue with Barihun’s full lineup of nine musicians! under the joint musical directorship of Barihun and Sefi Zisling (The Ramirez Brothers), and end with a guest performance by Ehud Banai.


Doors open: 9:30pm

Performance begins: 10:00pm 


Musical Direction: Abatte Barihun and Sefi Zisling
Bass: Amir Sadot
Guitar: Ilan Smilan
Keyboards: Noam Havkin
Trombone: Yaron Ozana
String Instruments: Idan Kopparberg
Drums: Matan Assayag
Vocals: Rudi Bainesay
Guest Singer: Ehud Banai