Strengthening Ethiopian Israeli Communities
More than 120,000 members of the Ethiopian Jewish community live in Israel and their assimilation into Israeli society has presented many unique challenges. Coming frequently from rural villages and economically impoverished areas, Ethiopian Israelis are faced with many cultural and socio-economic shocks and adjustments upon making Aliyah.
Many struggle to transition from living in close-knit communities that shared everything to an increasingly urbanized setting where family life often becomes fractured. Today, some 70 percent of Ethiopian Israelis live below the poverty line. The suicide rate is disproportionately high, many youngsters drop out of school, and discrimination is still rampant. But, even with these huge challenges, there is considerable positive news to report. Step by step, this community is finding its place in Israeli society.
For over 20 years, the Federation has been actively supporting the immigration and integration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
This includes the final flight to Israel this summer, which marked the end of active mass immigration from Ethiopia. Today, the children who immigrated during the bulk of the Ethiopian Aliyah in the early 1980s and 90s are adults, and the burgeoning Ethiopian Israeli community is very much transitioning from active absorption to becoming a self-sufficient sector of Israeli society.
The Federation has pinpointed the changing needs of Ethiopian Israelis and is working closely with several nonprofit organizations to build their capacity and ensure the greatest impact on the lives of the people they serve. Current programming runs the gamut from empowering at-risk Ethiopian young adults, closing the digital gap and training young adults for work in the Israel’s hi-tech industry, and offering mentorship programs to university graduates bound for professional life, to empowering Ethiopian Israeli parents to be active partners in their children’s education. Today, there are Ethiopian Israelis leading their communities in the Knesset, in the business sector, and in city councils, albeit in very small numbers.
One such leader, Yuvi Tashome-Katz, was recently appointed to the Gedera municipal council, where she is inspiring hundreds in her community to become activists and encouraging Ethiopian Israeli leaders to build grassroots change in their familial neighborhoods. In her article below, published in TheMarker edition of Ha’aretz, Yuvi explains how Ethiopian Israelis need to work together and take responsibility for their communities, and create the social change needed to better their lives. Yuvi is no stranger to the Federation, which has supported her efforts as co-founder of the nonprofit organization “Friends by Nature-Community Empowerment.” The Federation is committed to continuing to strengthen the Ethiopian Israeli community and its transition into Israeli society. Learn more about our efforts in Israel.