Bnei Akiva opens first chapter in Ethiopia
Organization opens chapter to help Ethiopians awaiting immigration to Israel with absorption and learning of Jewish and Israeli customs.
Over 6,000 of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia are waiting for their immigration to Israel in a camp in Gondar. Their immigration is currently awaiting government approval from the Israeli government and is expected to take some time.
In an effort to make the eventual absorption process into Israeli society easier, primarily for the Ethiopian children, one of Israel’s largest youth movements, Bnei Akiva, has set up a chapter in the camp to run programs and teach children about Israeli customs and traditions.
Israeli emissaries from the organization traveled to Ethiopia to teach teenagers from within the community how to be leaders for the youth organization, and provided them with the material needed to help educate other youth their own age, and those younger than them. Both Bnei Akiva Israel as well as World Bnei Akiva are involved in the project, together with Rabbi Menahem Waldman who has worked for many years to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
World Bnei Akiva has been working to set up and maintain a permanent emissary to Gondar to keep up the program and to spread the programs to the rest of the community. At the same time Israel Bnei Akiva is preparing their chapters and participants for an influx of Ethiopian immigrants which will help make their transition into Israeli society as easy as possible.
Secretary General of Bnei Akiva Israel, Dani Hirschberg told reporters that “Once the children from Ethiopia come to Israel they will be integrated into the currently running Bnei Akiva chapter that have been operating out of the various absorption center throughout the county for many years now. The programs in Gondar help us to create programs within the Ethiopian community there and allow us to absorb them in the best and quickest possible way into chapters here in Israel.
World Bnei Akiva Secretary General, Roey Abekasis told reporters that “the historical mission of Bnei Akiva is to support and encourage immigration to Israel. A challenging and important new project has been presented to us, to open a chapter in Ethiopia, which will be continued during the absorption of the participants in Israel. We are currently working towards establishing the program in Gondar and enlisting the best emissaries for this pioneering mission.”