Ethiopian Israeli picked for Eurovision
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Ethiopian Israeli picked for Eurovision

For the first time, an Ethiopian Israeli will represent Israel in the Eurovision song contest scheduled for May in Rotterdam.

Eden Alene was selected by winning the Channel 12 reality contest “HaKochav HaBa,” or “The Next Star.” Her performance in the finals was Beyonce’s “Halo.”

When she took to the stage for the last time in the competition, Eden clutched a small Israeli flag under her arm and wrapped her other arm around her mother, Zehava Varkanesh. Then she closed her eyes, looking relieved because it was the last performance before the nerve-wracking process finally would be over.

Then her voice broke, just a little, as she looked into her mother’s eyes, held her hand and sang. Eden, 19, of Kiryat Gat, is no stranger to victory. Two years ago, she won the Israeli version of “X-Factor.”

“It is an insane honor to represent my country. It is amazing that an Ethiopian is doing it for the first time,” she said after her victory. “Think about where we were when the Ethiopians first started making aliyah — and look at where we are now. It’s a whole new world.”

Eden now is fulfilling her mandatory army service. The Jerusalem native was raised in the capital city by her religiously observant single mother after her parents divorced when she was 4.

She released several singles for radio after “X-Factor.”

Her song for Eurovision will be selected in a nationally televised program in March, when a panel of judges and Israeli viewers can vote on one of four songs chosen from public submissions.

JTA

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