ICEJ Helping Young Ethiopian Jewish Immigrants

By Jonathan Parsons. Published 5/3/2024

Nicole Yoder with student

An ICEJ delegation recently attended the graduation of 15 Ethiopian immigrant students.

The students not only graduated successfully, but they did so despite experiencing the turmoil of being targeted by Hamas rocket barrages, the overshadowing security threat, and some having to relocate from different Aliyah centres away from family members. For part of the program, they could not all attend classes together and had to switch to learning online.

New Ethiopian Jewish immigrants need to overcome huge cultural differences and language barriers. This is especially true for the young students among them – ages 18 to 25 – who are part of an intensive nine-month high school graduation program even as they are still adjusting to their new home in Israel. That is why it was so special to see the latest class of these Ethiopian olim (newcomers) as they recently graduated from high school, thanks to the ICEJ’s sponsoring of this fast-track education program.

Ethiopian Jewish immigration has been a focal point of the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts in recent years, with over 3,250 Ethiopian Jews arriving in Israel through ICEJ funded flights. This accounts for about half of all the Ethiopian immigrants that have come since their Aliyah process was resumed in 2015.

It is both a dream come true and a life-altering experience for these Ethiopian olim to make it to the Promised Land. However, there are language, education and culture gaps between these newcomers and the rest of Israeli society. Thus, Ethiopian Jews often have difficulties assimilating into the wider Israeli culture, leaving many susceptible to falling into poverty.

That is why the ICEJ not only helps Ethiopian Jews make it to Israel, but we also seek to ensure the younger generation who came with at least 8-to-11 years of education have the opportunity to earn a full Israeli high school degree as soon as possible.

Ethiopian students graduating

ICEJ makes dreams come true:

As the graduation ceremony started, Vered, the program coordinator, addressed the graduates.

“The ICEJ enabled us to help you,” she said. “The teachers and staff were just the mediators, but the ones who made it possible in the first place are the ICEJ. They do so because they believe in you.”

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President of Aid & Aliyah, then told the students “It’s an honour to be able to help with your Aliyah, but we also want to help you to start building a new life here. It is only because of your hard work that you are here today. We gave you the means and tools, but it was you who put in the work to be where you are today. We wish you well and hope that this diploma will be a stepping stone for you to follow your dreams!”

Nicole Yoder speaking to students

We were especially thrilled to hear that these students are dreaming big! From hi-tech to medicine, dentistry, accounting, and law, each one is striving to contribute and go far. We see it as the ICEJ’s mission not just to bring the Jewish people back to their historic homeland, but also to help equip the newcomers with what they need to further themselves and build a new life in Israel, even in the midst of the attempts by Israel’s enemies to destroy this nation.

Your support for our Aliyah efforts will enable the Christian Embassy to help more new Jewish immigrants to arrive in their ancestral homeland and establish themselves back among their people.

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