In a dusty courtyard filled with yellowing grass and weeds, the day’s mourners gather, still shocked by the death of Sukula Sukul, killed when her husband took a kitchen knife and stabbed her as their children slept.
The Sukuls and their 11 children immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia two years ago. Now the mother is dead, the father is in jail for her murder and the children must sort out the pieces.
Sitting on a plastic chair with the other mourners grieving for his mother on Oct. 10, 18-year-old Ambaye Sukul says his father never really found his place in Israel.
"In Israel he did not know how to get by. He would just do nothing, sitting at home all day," he says. "For him, Israel was a world where everything seemed upside down."
"In Ethiopia,” where his father was a farmer that raised potatoes, tomatoes, corn and other vegetables, “it was all so different," Ambaye adds softly.
Disturbing as the Sukuls’ story is, it is not unique in Israel’s Ethiopian community. It is but the latest in a gruesome series of murders of Ethiopian women by their male partners.
The numbers of spousal murders among Ethiopian Israelis are grossly disproportionate to the size of their small community. In 2006, four out of the 10 women murdered in Israel by their domestic partners were Ethiopian immigrants. Four more have been killed this year.
They blame the often devastating and disorienting transition to Israeli life, which is especially difficult for Ethiopian men accustomed to Ethiopia’s patriarchal society. They say this challenge, coupled with a lack of social services to help ease their path and intervene when disputes turn violent, has led to the current crisis.