Background: The successful rescue of Ethiopian Jewry has been a source of pride for Jews worldwide. The Israeli government, with the partnership of the diaspora communities, has made extraordinary efforts toward their successful absorption into Israeli society. Ethiopian immigrants are the beneficiaries of generous housing mortgages and job training programs. However, given the complexity of Ethiopian absorption, serious challenges remain. In particular, ongoing problems within the educational system — particularly the shortening of the school day due to budget cuts and the lack of adequate supplemental and pre-school programs for lower age groups in order to overcome this problem — threaten the ability of the younger generation to gain the necessary tools to participate fully in all levels of Israeli society. Education expert Gadi Ben Ezer prepared a comprehensive report for the Ministry of Education which recommended these and other programs that would help meet the special needs of Ethiopian children.
Action Recommendations: In light of the importance that Israel and the Jewish people attach to the successful absorption of Ethiopian immigrants into Israeli society, the NJCRAC urges its member agencies to:
• urge the Israeli government to implement the recommendations of the Ben Ezer report and to take additional educational and other measures needed to advance the effective absorption of Ethiopians into Israeli society;
• consider ways in which they can play a direct role, including through local federation Partnership 2000 initiatives, to advance the Ethiopian absorption effort;
• explore with those organizations that work with Ethiopian immigrants — such as the Jewish Agency for Israel, NACOEJ, the JDC and others — ways the American Jewish community can be supportive of their efforts; and
• encourage leadership missions to Israel to include meetings with representatives of the Ethiopian community.