Henry Aaron Stern

Henry Aaron Stern (Unterreichenbach, near Gelnhausen, 11 April 1820 – Hackney, 13 May 1885) was an Anglican missionary and captive in Abyssinia.

Beta Israel Woman

Beta Israel Woman

Stern was first sent by the Anglican London Jews Society to Jerusalem, where he was ordained as a deacon on 14 July 1844 by the first Anglican Bishop of JerusalemMichael Solomon Alexander in St. James’s Chapel at Jerusalem, then traveling onwards to Bagdad. In 1849 during a visit to England he was ordained an Anglican priest in the Chapel Royal at Whitehall on 23 December 1849 by the bishop of London. Stern returned to Bagdad in the followng June, and stayed there for three more years before being transferred 1853-1859 to Istanbul.

Stern preaches Christianity to Beta Israel.

The London Jews‘ Society then directed Stern to travel to Ethiopia to preach to the Beta Israel Jews, arriving on March 10, 1860. On his return from Ethiopia he was founder of the Hebrew Christian Prayer Union of London, 1882, later included into Carl Schwartz‚ Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain.

English: Tewodros II, around 1860

Tewodros II of Ethiopia

Tewodros II of Ethiopia initially welcomed Stern, and Stern fixed his headquarters at Genda.

Following various slights by Lord John Russell of the British Foreign Office and others the king’s attitude to the British changed.

Stern was summoned to appear before the king at Gondar in October 1863 where Stern was beaten and imprisoned together with a Mr. Rosenthal, his LJS assistant.

Official seal of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia

Seal of Tewodros II of Ethiopia

By the time they were transferred to prison at Amba Magdala, in November 1864 they were joined by consul, Cameron, and other Europeans. Stern’s situation was made more difficult by the fact that the king was made aware of uncomplimentary material in Stern’s book – including having stated that the king’s mother was a vendor of kosso – in Wanderings among the Falashas in Abyssinia: together with a description of the Country and its various Inhabitants 1862.

All this led to the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia.

  • Dawnings of Light in the East: with Biblical, Historical, and Statistical Notices of Persons and Places in Persia, Coordistan, and Mesopotamia 1854
  • Journal of a Missionary Journey into Arabia Felix 1858
  • Wanderings among the Falashas in Abyssinia: together with a description of the Country and its various Inhabitants 1862
  • The Captive Missionary: being an Account of the Country and People of Abyssinia – Embracing a narrative of King Theodore’s life, and his Treatment of Political and Religious Missions. 1868


  1. ^ Albert Augustus Isaacs Biography of the Rev. Henry Aaron Stern, D.D. 1886
  2. ^ Don Seeman One People, One Blood: Ethiopian-Israelis and the Return to Judaism Page 47 2010 „Henry Aaron Stern arrived in Ethiopia on March 10, 1860.“
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