Organizations in Israel Helping the Ethiopian Israeli Community
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee- Israel
JDC invests more funds in programs to help Ethiopian Israelis than any other organization. These include PACT, Ofek Bagrut, Springboard, Reshet, Eshet Chayil and Family of Valor, Comprehensive Program for Elderly Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel, Gardening Program for Ethiopian-Israelis and Warm Homes for Ethiopian Israelis, and Atzmaut.
Ethiopian National Project (ENP)
The Ethiopian National Project is a major multi-year effort by the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Israeli Government, Representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Community Organizations, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel and Keren Hayesod to improve opportunities and quality of life for Ethiopian Israeli youth. ENP initiatives operate in 26 cities across Israel.
Merkaz Ha’igui (The Coordinating Center for Ethiopian Absorption in the Education System)
This organization is an arm of the Society for the Advancement of Education in Israel and works closely with the Ministry of Education. It manages educational mediators (megashrim) in 105 schools throughout Israel.
Israel Center for Educational Innovation (ICEI)
ICEI, which was established by the Moriah Fund, works to improve literacy levels, foster better teaching and school leadership/management practices and generate greater parent involvement in elementary schools with large Ethiopian Israeli student bodies.
Fidel works to improve educational services for Ethiopian Israeli children and help at-risk youth. The organization trains educational-cultural mediators (megashrim) to work in the school system; has helped create model schools with an emphasis on improving reading skills; and conducts parents’ groups. Fidel also runs the Crisis Intervention Center for Ethiopian Israeli Youth At-Risk at the Tel Aviv Central bus station, as well as a number of youth centers.
Limudiah –NACOEJ Israel
In Israel NACOEJ seeks to close educational gaps and cultivate academic achievement among Ethiopian Israeli school children through their “Limudiah” afterschool reinforcement and enrichment programs. NACOEJ provides also scholarships for higher education.
Olim Beyachad helps Ethiopian Israeli university graduates and students find suitable employment in their chosen professional field. The organization works closely with the business and governmental sector to facilitate the recruitment of highly qualified Ethiopian Israeli college graduates with the hope that as future business and professional leaders they will serve as models and help open up job opportunities for other graduates.
Tech Careers – Computer Training for Ethiopian Israelis
Tech Careers trains Ethiopian Israeli young adults for careers in hi-tech, including job placement and technical English studies. Integrating qualified Ethiopian Israeli graduates in well paid hi-tech jobs helps them and their families extricate themselves from poverty and achieve economic mobility. Tech Careers graduates have a high job retention rate.
International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential (I.C.E.L.P/Feuerstein Institute)
The Feuerstein Institute helps children from the Ethiopian Israeli community integrate and succeed in their schooling. Feuerstein’s assessment procedures and cognitive learning skills programs are used in intervention programs in the school, absorption centers, the army (Amir Program), and by several colleges and universities to help Ethiopian Israelis overcome the challenges of culturally dependent testing methods.
Elem is a national organization working to help youth at-risk. It runs a number of programs specifically for Ethiopian Israeli youth in Jerusalem, Rehovot, Ramle and several other communities. Elem also works with individual Ethiopian Israeli youth at-risk beyond the framework of these sectorial programs.
Almaya helps Ethiopian Israeli children, families and youth through a variety of afterschool educational and enrichment programs, ranging from early childhood to high school. The organization also works to preserve Ethiopian Jewish heritage and has developed educational resources for this purpose.
Friends by Nature- Community Empowerment
Friends by Nature seeks to strengthen local Ethiopian Israeli communities by forming groups (garinim) of academically educated, socially responsible Ethiopian Israelis to settle in weaker neighborhoods. The organization currently has community garinim in Gedera, Rishion Lezion, Yavne, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Malachi that engage in neighborhood renewal, strengthening the family unit, reducing juvenile delinquency, alleviating poverty and cultivating civic responsibility among youth.
Tebeka-Advocacy for Equality & Justice
Tebeka provides legal aid to Ethiopian Israelis. The organization also engages in legal advocacy on in the areas of civil and labor rights and has filed several high profile petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court.
Tesfachin runs supplementary educational and enrichment activities for Ethiopian Israeli children and youth in the town of Yavne, and have been very successful in improving levels of educational achievement. Its activities focus on helping students develop socially, emotionally and academically so that they can successfully complete high school matriculation exams..
Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ)
The Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews is the Ethiopian Israeli community’s oldest advocacy organization. Its advocacy efforts focus on education, employment, community empowerment, combating discrimination and raising awareness regarding key issues facing the Ethiopian Israeli community.
Gidon Association for Ethiopian Jews (Maksam)
The Gidon Association for Ethiopian Jews, also known by its Amharic name Maksam, runs a network of five after school homework assistance and parents in Hadera neighborhoods with large Ethiopian Israeli populations.
Bahalachin preserves, documents and conducts educational programming about Ethiopian Jewish heritage. In keeping with its affinity for preserving customs, Bahalachin engages in conflict resolution between and within family units by reviving smoglich, traditional Ethiopian Jewish councils of elders. The organization is seeking to establish an Ethiopian Jewish heritage center in Jerusalem.
World ORT “Science Journey”
This program provides technical education and training to post-army Ethiopian Israelis at several locations in northern Israel, including Kiryat Yam, north of Haifa and at Jordan Valley Regional College.
Tzofei Shva (Tzofim/Scouts Movement)
Tzofei Shva is a division of the Tzofim (the Israeli Scouts) that was established to reach out and integrate Ethiopian Israelis into the movement. The movement has chapters in predominantly Ethiopian Israeli neighborhoods in 27 cities throughout Israel. It works to cultivate civic responsibility, a sense of belonging and cultural pride among youth, while integrating them into a larger general Israeli youth movement.
Ariella cultivates excellence among Ethiopian Israeli youth through long term group activities and engagement with individual participants from high school through the completion of military service and academic studies. Its activities include supplemental education programs, workshops, empowerment training and enrichment activities.
Heneni organizes groups of successful, academically educated young Ethiopian Israeli couples, families and singles (garanim) to move into predominantly Ethiopian neighborhoods with the objective of strengthening the community. The garinim engage in social action activities, such as afterschool enrichment, homework assistance, holiday celebrations, youth clubs and other community development activities to strengthen “Israeli-Jewish-Ethiopian” identity.
Tene Briut engages in health education among Ethiopian Israelis. It focuses on the prevention, early detection and treatment of chronic diseases. Special emphasis is placed on lifestyle related medical issues, such as diabetes and obesity, which were almost unknown in Ethiopia.
Shachar (B’nei Akiva Youth Movement)
Hashachar movement (modern Orthodox Zionist) dedicated to reaching out to recruit and integrate Ethiopian Israelis in the youth movement. To this end it maintains chapters in neighborhoods with large Ethiopian Israeli populations, works with local religious schools, provides afterschool enrichment and scholastic help programs and runs summer camps.
Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma
The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma has established a special project, staffed by Amharic speakers, to treat Ethiopian Israelis suffering from post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and other forms of psycho-trauma as a result of being victims of violence, bereavement and other forms of suffering endured while en route to Israel through Sudan in the 1908’s. Originally in Herzog Hospital, they are now located in Jerusalem independently..
Shatil provides technical assistance and training to build the capacity of Israeli social change organizations. It maintains a specific program to build the capacity of Ethiopian Israeli nonprofit organizations. Shatil also runs programs for the Ethiopian Israeli community in the fields of community empowerment, reducing family violence and helping youth at risk in the school system (preventing dropouts, identifying and coping with learning disabilities).
Achvat Yisrael provides 300 Ethiopian Israeli families in Hadera, Pardes Hanna, Kfar Yona and Binyamina with material assistance ranging from food baskets before holidays to cooking ovens. The organization also provides scholastic assistance to local children at a study center.
Hiyot is a community empowerment organization that seeks to advance the absorption and improve the quality of life of Ethiopian Israelis in the Greater Haifa area. The organization was founded and continues to be led by a group of college educated Ethiopian Israeli women. Its programs include early childhood education, women’s empowerment, youth outreach centers and afterschool enrichment.
Tzionei Yisrael (Zionists of Israel)
Tzionei Yisrael helps prepare 15-17 years old Ethiopian Israelis for military service in the Israel Defense Forces. The organization also conducts sports activities for teenagers and offers enrichment programs for high school age students in math, computers and English. Headquartered in Ashdod.
Keren Hanan Aynor
The Hanan Aynor Foundation provides scholarships to Ethiopian Israeli students for higher education and also for advanced technical and vocational studies, such as auto mechanics courses.
Shavu Banim is a Be’er Sheva based organization that provides afterschool educational, welfare, cultural and spiritual/religious services to the local Ethiopian Israeli community. Shavu Banim is an Orthodox Jewish organization under the chairmanship of Rabbi Mazur Beheine, a former member of Knesset from the Shas Party.
Jerusalem Conservatory – “Hasadna”
This is the only program in Israel offering Ethiopian Israeli children full scholarships for music lessons, including instrument rental and the provision of other study materials. Two program participants were recently accepted to the prestigious Jerusalem Academy of Music.
Ethiopian Israeli Students Union
The Ethiopian Israeli Students Union runs social, social action (such as tutoring programs for local school children), academic assistance programs for Ethiopian Israeli students, organizes job networking events and maintains an active web site. The organization – run entirely by student volunteers – represents the interests of Ethiopian Israeli students in meetings with university and college administrations, the Student Authority, Education and Absorption Ministries.
HaTzvi conducts sports activities, sports education and cultivates athletic achievement, even excellence, among Ethiopian Israeli youth both at grassroots and competitive levels.
Council of Kessim
The Council is an organization of traditional Ethiopian Jewish spiritual leaders (Kessim). The organization works to preserve Ethiopian Jewish traditions, especially among people and to strengthen the status of the Keisim in Israel. Provides various traditional religious services to the community and plays a major role in holiday celebrations.
Reu Banim serves as an umbrella organization for Ethiopian Israeli rabbis. Most of its activities are religious and educational in nature and revolve around synagogue life.
National Movement for Ethiopian Jews
The National Movement for Ethiopian Jews cultivates greater parent involvement in education out of the belief that parents should be the driving force in educating their children. It has 28 volunteer coaches who teach parenting skills relevant to Israeli life, provides Ethiopian Israeli parents with the tools to be positively involved in their children’s schooling and a deeper understanding of the intergenerational issues.
Notable Books and Publications
The Ethiopian Jews of Israel – Personal Stories of Life in the Promised Land By Len Lyons, PhD :: Photographs by Ilan Ossendryver :: Foreword by Alan Dershowitz
Black Jews, Jews, and Other Heroes – How Grassroots Activism Led to the Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews by Howard M. Lenhoff
Operation Solomon: The Daring Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews by Stephen Spector