- The Ethiopian immigrant community in Israel numbers over 50 000 people. Many arrived in Israel after serious trauma that can be compared to an Holocaust experience. Thousands experienced long treks by foot through desert areas where children and elders died of starvation and fatigue, spouses were separated or lost, and robbery and rape were common. Thirty-six psychiatric admissions of Ethiopian immigrants to the Beersheva Mental Health Center were reviewed. We suggest that in this population, severe stress and traumatic experience take the form of a brief reactive psychosis and not the form of the ‘classical’ post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Familiarity with the phenomena may be useful to Western psychiatrists to give the right diagnosis and treatment and to avoid unnecessary hospitalization or neuroleptic treatment. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.