Tebeka (Amharic for “Advocate of Justice”), is the legal aid society for Ethiopian Jews in Israel and was founded by the first Ethiopian- Israeli attorney to earn a law degree, Itzik Dessie. Its mission is to safeguard the rights of Ethiopian-Israelis by ensuring their access to high quality, comprehensive and free legal services; as well as to cultivate Israel’s next generation of leaders and legal scholars. Tebeka operates legal aid clinics that serve more than 1,000 clients annually in areas including employment, education, housing, health, immigration and family law. For major cases involving discrimination and other civil rights violations, Tebeka conducts impact litigation in the District Courts and in Israel’s High Court of Justice. Furthermore, Tebeka operates a Center for Children’s Rights that utilizes attorneys and social workers to provide family counseling and advocacy services for Ethiopian-Israelis facing issues involving school authorities, social services and the courts.
In addition to offering direct legal services, Tebeka invests substantially in the community of Ethiopian-Israeli attorneys and law students by providing scholarships, internships, job placement programs and skills-training workshops. Moreover, Tebeka runs a Youth for Justice Program that enables teenagers of diverse backgrounds to participate in after-school workshops and peer-discussion groups that exolore topics including civics, civil rights, current events, conflict resolution, and which prepare teens for the rigors of life after high school. Tebeka also works closely with Member of the Knesset, local municipality leaders and other NGOs to advance policies that address discrimination and other unique challenges of integration facing many Ethiopian-Israelis. In addition, Tebeka hosts a weekly radio show and conducts workshops in absorption centers and community centers throughout the country to educate Ethiopian Israeli men and women about their rights and corresponding obligations as members of a democracy.
Ultimately, Tebeka’s vision is that of a socially and economically empowered Ethiopian-Israeli community that participates fully in a pluralistic Israeli society where equal protection of the law is guaranteed to all its citizens.
Watch an excellent video in Hebrew about Tebeka’s work.
TEBEKA– Advocacy for Justice & Equality for Ethiopian-Israelis
Fentahun Assefa Dawit