Berekete refers specifically to a dabo, a yeasted bread prepared by both Jewish and Christian Ethiopian communities, which is blessed and eaten on Shabbat mornings after prayer. Berekete is usually shaped into a large loaf that is slow-baked throughout the night, in Ethiopia it was placed in a dutch oven and buried over burning coals. It can be eaten with the addition of a mixture of spices called berbere or home-made cheese called agwat (curd cheese).
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it is probably related to the word ‘bracha’ – blessing in Hebrew – since this is the bread eaten on Shabbat, the holy day. The other significant difference between dabo, injera, and berekete has more to do with strict observance of religious “purity” and customs and traditions that formed within Ethiopan Jewish communities as a result of their isolation from other Jewish peoples. Within the Ethiopian Beta Israel community, which is known for being extremely strict about the laws of impurity and purity, women who are menstruating or those who have recently given birth (80 days after the birth of a daughter, and 40 days after the birth of a son) must refrain from preparing the berekete. In fact, these women are not even allowed to eat of the blessed bread, a separate bread is prepared especially for them.
This entry was assisted by Mespan Gadai, an Amharic translator and a member of the Beta Israel congregation.