Federation currently allocates more than $115,000 to fund three programs that help Ethiopian Israelis make a successful adjustment to life in Israel, according to Jeri Zimmerman, director of Federation’s Center for Israel and Overseas. They are:
Tech Career encourages Ethiopian Israeli young adults to enter the high-tech field by offering them supportive career education and increased access to technology before they enter the military.
The Israel Defense Forces Human Resources Division recruits and screens candidates for this program and will place 100 percent of the certified graduates in technological units.
Program participants acquire professional knowledge and skills during their military service that either serve as springboards for further academic education or prepare them for immediate employment in Israel’s dynamic high-tech industry or military framework.
Two other programs serve Ethiopian olim who live in Federation’s Partnership2Gether communities of Netivot-Sedot Negev.
The Kaiserman Ethiopian Center in Netivot offers learning and enrichment opportunities for arts, cultural and religious expression for Ethiopian Jews of all ages.
Children from pre-school to grade eight attend classes that help bridge language and cultural gaps. They are exposed to computers and can avail themselves of empowerment workshops, modern and traditional dance programs, and opportunities to explore and express their Jewish heritage.
Adults have the opportunity to learn Hebrew and discuss current events during the morning hours.
Women operate an art center that creates native arts and crafts that are suitable for the market. They sell their creations at fairs and shows throughout Israel. They recently exhibited their work at Federation’s Israel 66 festival in Center City Philadelphia.
The center hosts a community garden that helps integrate the adults into employment and leisure-time activities and operates its own synagogue, which offers services on Shabbat and Jewish holidays as well as weekday classes.
Roots — A Community Agriculture Project for Ethiopian Older Adults is a project of the Hinneni Association in cooperation with the local municipality in Netivot that encourages Ethiopian adults to cultivate agricultural lands and raise vegetables and spices using traditional methods.
Adults who participate are able to socialize while engaging in meaningful activities outdoors.
“Roots” also helps older adults deepen their connections with their native agrarian traditions and achieve greater independence through careers in agriculture.