"When I was 5, I was a shepherd. I never imagined then that I would be a paratrooper, let alone a commander."
Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew is the new mini-documentary from the creators of Netflix-featured Beneath the Helmet and PBS-featured Israel Inside. The film follows the backstory and personal journey of Mekonen Abebe, a young African-Israeli Jew, once a young shepherd in Africa and now a commander in the Israeli Defense Forces. Mekonen is one of many brave young men and women drafted into compulsory service in the IDF, to defend their homeland and the liberal values of democracy, freedom and equality.
Born and raised in an Ethiopian village, Mekonen was a 12-year-old shepherd when his father died suddenly, less than a day before his family was to move to Israel. The film accompanies Mekonen back to Africa on an emotional journey. He explores his roots, makes peace with his past and embraces his future in Israel.
After a difficult adjustment period in Israel, Mekonen was fortunate to attend the Hodayot High School, which educates children from troubled backgrounds and helps integrate them into Israeli society. Mekonen became a decorated officer in the IDF, while staying true to his Ethiopian roots and culture.
Mekonen is an uplifting and inspiring film that will move audiences and show viewers that anything is possible with the right attitude, tools and support.