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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian Jews’

20% Drop in Aliyah Numbers Blamed on Late Budget Allocations

Monday, June 6th, 2016

More than 30,000 people immigrated to Israel last year, but the first six months of 2016 have seen a 20% decline in the number of new immigrants, according to a report revealed during Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs. At this point it is believed that the decline is due to absorption problems related to insufficient budgets, as well as the emergence of immigration destinations that are more appealing than Israel.

“Last year’s wave of Aliyah has come to a halt due to lack of coordination, clumsiness and negligence,” Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said during the special meeting on the preparations of local authorities and government ministries to absorb immigrants.

“A window of opportunity has opened for us, and it is our duty to take advantage of it and not have any regrets once it closes,” Neguise added. He called on the Interior Ministry to update the list of Israeli cities which are eligible for benefits for the absorption of immigrants. He suggested the list had not been updated in decades.

The Finance Ministry’s representative at the meeting said both the Finance and Interior ministries are currently holding negotiations regarding the status of immigrant cities. She said the Knesset Finance Committee, not the Finance Ministry, was to blame for the delay in the allocation of government funds to the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption. Haviv Katzav, the Ministry’s Director General, warned that numerous plans may be put on hold due to the delay in the transfer of funds.

Avi Ben-Hamo, Director General of the Netanya Municipality, said 67,000 immigrants live in the city, which has a total population of 235,000. “Our city has the highest concentration of immigrants from Ethiopia, in addition to many immigrants from France and the Commonwealth of Independent States,” he said, adding that in 2015 Netanya absorbed the third largest number of immigrants, yet it is still not categorized as an “immigrant city.”

“[Neighboring] Ramat Hasharon continues to be defined as an immigrant city despite the fact that not even one immigrant has settled there in years,” Ben-Hamo said. “In protest, our services for olim will be not be available in the next few months due to insufficient funding from the government.”

MK Mordhay Yogev (HaBayit HaYehudi) argued that this year’s drop in immigration to Israel stems solely from absorption problems. He called on the Prime Minister’s Office to make certain that medical degrees obtained abroad are recognized in Israel and that lone soldiers are cared for. Yogev also urged the government to redefine immigrant cities.

Yehuda Scharf, Director of Aliyah and Absorption at the Jewish Agency, warned that without proper government funding the situation would become worse. “Currently, French nationals who are looking to emigrate have many options, so if we do not offer them at least what other countries are offering – we’ll be facing stiff competition,” he said.

JNi.Media

On This Day in 1991, IDF Makes a Miracle With ‘Operation Solomon’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

On this day in 1991, Israeli Defense Forces accomplished a miracle and broke a world record for number of passengers transported in a plane, launching a covert mission to airlift thousands of people, thousands of miles away to bring them home to Israel.

It seemed impossible at the time, but Operation Solomon rescued 14,500 Ethiopian Jews on May 24 and May 25 and transported them 2,500 miles to a new life in Israel.

To date, the unprecedented airlift remains the largest aerial expedition in the history of the State of Israel and the largest transport of passengers in a single plane in the world.

In 1990, the Israeli government and the IDF became aware that the incumbent government of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam was coming closer to collapse or a coup. World Jewish organizations joined Israel in its concern for the Beta Israel, Ethiopian Jews whose mass emigration had to that point been impossible.

The Ethiopian government finally allowed all the Jews to leave the country at once in great part due to a letter from U.S. President George H.W. Bush. Up to that point, Mengistu was only willing to discuss their emigration in exchange for weapons.

U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz was sent as a special emissary by Pres. Bush to meet with the Ethiopian government to aid Israel in arranging the airlift. Assistant Secy of State for African Affairs Hank Cohen was also involved as he was an international mediator in Ethiopia’s civil war.

The operation itself was not publicized by media, thanks to a gag order under military censorship. The aircraft were all stripped of their seats in order to maximize their space.

Upon arrival 140 frail passengers received medical care while still on the tarmac; five pregnant women gave birth on the plane – they and their newborns were rushed to the hospital as soon as they arrived in Israel.

In 36 hours, 35 Israeli aircraft flew non-stop flights to transport 14,325 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Among the aircraft were Israeli Air Force C-130s and El Al Boeing 7474s.

Hana Levi Julian

Ethiopian MK Meets Visiting African Women, Advocates Merging Israeli Tech with ‘Fertile African Soil’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) on Monday met at the Knesset with a delegation of prominent women from several African countries, including women from academia and education, as well as members of parliament, members of political parties and one journalist.

The African delegation is visiting Israel as part of the UN Women initiative, established in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. UN Women – Africa, one of the largest branches of this initiative, works to “support regional gender-responsive measures to promote women’s leadership and participation in politics, government, business and society and to influence regional and national legal frameworks and policies to increase women’s leadership and political participation.”

MK Neguise noted that the 20th Knesset includes a record number of women members, and encouraged his guests “as leaders in your countries, to continue with your activity.”

Neguise, an Ethiopian Israeli, told the women that as MK he works to strengthen relations between Israel and Africa. To this end, he recently established the Lobby for Relations between Israel and African Countries, which he heads. Neguise also chairs the parliamentary friendship groups of Israel and Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda.

“I believe that the meeting between Israeli technology and the fertile African soil can effect change in Africa and strengthen the ties between Israelis and Africans,” Neguise told the delegation members, pointing out Israel’s advanced capabilities in the fields of irrigation, desalination, solar energy, medicine, education and tourism. “If we develop cooperation in these fields, both Israelis and Africans will benefit,” he promised.

Neguise, who serves as chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, noted the importance of Jewish immigration to the strengthening of Israeli society, and said part of the committee’s duty is to advance equal opportunities for recent immigrants in education, employment and housing. He noted that part of the challenge stems from the fact that 90 percent of Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel came from rural areas, “so there are economic, cultural and professional gaps.” In order to narrow these gaps, he said, Israel provides after-school classes for Ethiopian students, vocational training for adults and housing assistance for immigrant families.

While in Israel, the African delegation members are taking part in a leadership course organized by Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, a division of the Foreign Ministry. The course is being held in cooperation with Singapore.

Click here for a list of the African delegation members.

JNi.Media

Bnei Akiva in Ethiopia Will Ease Transition to Israel for Remaining Jews [video]

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The Israeli government decided in late 2015 to bring the remaining Jews in Ethiopia home to Israel. That project is estimated to take five years. In the interim, and cognizant of the difficult time that some olim, particularly Ethiopian Israelis, have had in making the transition to Israeli life, a new project was launched.

That project, the Ethiopian Aliyah Project 2016, has as its goal preparing the remaining 6,000 Jews in Ethiopia for Aliyah.

World Bnei Akiva, working with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government, have committed to sending two Bnei Akiva shlichim (outreach workers) to Ethiopia, at intervals of two months at a time, work with those Ethiopians preparing for Aliyah. These students will teach Hebrew, Torah and Zionist ideology to the Jews waiting in transit camps in Addis Ababa and Gondar.

A successful project will mean that the new olim will have a successful transition to and absorption within Israel. There are opportunities to provide financial support to this program.

 

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Israel Planning ‘Rescue’ Operation for French Jews

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The Israeli government is expected to approve soon a plan to bring tens of thousands of French Jews to Israel within the next three years, according to a report in Makor Rishon on Friday.

An Aliyah plan of this scale hasn’t been attempted since Operation Moses and Operation Solomon rescued Ethiopian Jewry and and brought them to Israel.

Currently, tens of thousands of French Jews are essentially fleeing France, in great part due to the serious rise in antisemitism in that country. The problem is that they are leaving France to go to London, Canada, and the US. A mere 3,000 of the the Jews who left France in 2013 made it to Israel.

The Israeli government has determined that in order to entice French Jewry to come to Israel, three primary areas must be addressed: employment, housing and quality education.

In order to address the employment issue, the government is set to recognize existing French professional licenses in the fields of medicine and tax advise; it will consider placement in the army in jobs that actually fit the Oleh’s professional skill set, and will assist existing business owners wishing to bring their companies over to Israel.

The programs Taglit (birthright) and Masa, intended to strengthen Jewish identity and solidarity with Israel through a 10-day trip to Israel for young Jews will be expanded to French Jewish youth.

And French Jews will be practically guaranteed slots in the top schools.

The goals of the program are to double the number of French Jews brought to Israel each year. In 2014, the goal will be 6,000 Jews, 12,000 in 2015, and 24,000 in 2016.

The cost of the program is still unknown. The effort will be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s office.

The strategy is to create a 3 year window of opportunity for French Jewry, telling them: Come to Israel now while the going is good, because we can’t guarantee these conditions in the future.”

We at The Jewish Press are calling it “Operation Moïse.”

Shalom Bear

Torah Scroll and New-Born Baby Survived Two-Year Escape to Israel

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

This is the story of a miracle. It is about a group of people who survived trials and tribulations to live in Israel. This is the story of the Elias family, who lost two children on their journey and who bore Zehava Elias on the road.

Today, she is Lt. Zehava, a decorated IDF soldier.

“My father was born into the Ethiopian rabbinic community. My parents lived in a village and lived comfortably. When they first heard of the possibility of living in Israel in 1984, they immediately wanted to do it,” Zehava recalled. “It was a dream for them.” That year, Zehava’s uncles were part of a group that emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel.

Her family followed five years later. “My parents already had eight children and my mother was pregnant with me. They decided to leave everything they had behind: their possessions, their house, their animals, in order to return to Jerusalem,” Zehava said.

“They took with them only a little bit of food, money and my father’s Torah. They were joined by a guide who had already arrived in Israel during the first group’s immigration to Israel in 1984. He returned to help lead this group to Israel. They walked during the night so that they wouldn’t be identified, and they slept during the day,” Zehava explained.

Many died on the road, and the Elias family was not immune to such tragedies.

“One of my brothers was very sick. My father took him to a small town in Sudan for treatment. My older brother later told us that he was already dead in my father’s arms, but my father insisted on getting the child treatment. He was only three years old. Some time later, my other brother, who was five years old, died of dehydration. They had no choice but to continue on their journey,” Zehava explained.

“My mother was already late in her pregnancy during the journey. On one of the last days of the journey, my brothers carried my mother in a stretcher because she could not walk anymore,” Zehava recalled. “Her water broke while they were crossing a river and I was born, right there in Sudan.”

And their adventure continued. During their journey, Zehava’s father and older brothers were stopped and imprisoned in Sudan. Their mother and the rest of the children had no choice but to continue on.

More than a year after their departure from their home village, they arrived safely at their designated meeting place. From there, they took a plane to Israel.

The arrival in Israel was not as joyful as expected, because the family was still separated. The first year was not easy: language difficulties, problems with integration and, above all, the difficulty of building a new life without the men of the family.

It was only after more than a year that the last members of the family were released from Sudanese prison in order to join their family in the Jewish state.

In 1992, Zehava’s mother gave birth to twins, the first members of the family to be born in Israel. A few years later, Zehava began elementary school, where she already had plenty of brothers and sisters. As soon as they were old enough, every member of the family worked outside of school hours in order to support the family.

“My father worked as a janitor or repairman. It was hard work but he did it with pleasure because he was able to be in Israel. We also worked hard at school and were accepted into a very good school,” Zehava said.

In 2007, during Zehava’s last year of high school, Tata, one of her older sisters and mother of seven, told the family that she had cancer. Before she died, ”She instructed me to do something good in the army, whatever is most important to me. She believed in me,” recalled Zehava.

Zehava finished her studies with excellence. Then, in February 2008, she enlisted in the IDF. She became a commander at Havat HaShomer, a military base for troubled youth, before enrolling in officers’ training.

“I did not tell my family that I was doing the officers’ course. I needed to succeed because I took to heart all that Tata had asked of me. When my father came to the ceremony – he was obviously very proud at the officer’s ceremony. My mother was in tears,” Zehava said.

IDF Spokesperson's Office

Mourner in the Crowd

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

A member of the Ethiopian community in Israel attended late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s funeral on Monday. In May 1991, as the Ethiopian government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was collapsing, Shamir ordered the airlifting of fourteen thousand Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/mourner-in-the-crowd/2012/07/03/

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