In preparations for the Outreach Mission to Israel 2016, Dr. Ronald "DOC" Myers, Chairman of Juneteenth and Dr. Ron Wexler, president of the Heritage Study Programs (the host of mission outreach to Israel) visited the Ethiopian Community in Israel. Meetings in Israel included Titi Aynaw, Miss Israel who now heads a successful pilot project offering Ethiopian youth with an after school extra curriculum program.
There were also meetings with directors, staff, young students and teachers in many Ethiopian Absorption Centers.
There were visits to private homes, as well as visits to community centers that preserve the Ethiopian Community heritage, culture and costumes.
There were very important meetings throughout Israel. One of the meeting was with Mr. Simon Solomon, member of Knesset (Israeli Parliament) one of the two Knesset representatives of the Ethiopian Community.
A very strategic meeting was with Mr. Moodi Sandberg, who is in charge of the entire Israel Ethiopian Community Program. Another successful meeting in Jerusalem took place with Doc, Ron Wexler and Mr. Joshua Reinstein, the director of the Knesset Christian Caucus.
In all the meetings history was made, The Ethiopian Outreach Mission to Israel 2015 was enthusiastically embraced by all and great ties and connections were made.
Titi's pilot project with Ethiopian Youth was adopted to enable it to better serve and make it available in many Ethiopian Community Centers around Israel.
In 1991, the political and economic stability of Ethiopia deteriorated, as rebels mounted attacks against and eventually controlled the capital city of Addis Ababa. Worried about the fate of the Jews during the transition period, the Israeli government along with several private groups prepared to covertly bring the entire Jewish population to Israel (Solomon Operation). Over the course of the next 36 hours, a total of 34 passenger planes, with their seats removed to maximize passenger capacity, flew 14,325 of the Jews of Ethiopia non-stop to Israel. More daring operations continued during 1992-1999.
Ethiopians are gradually becoming part of the mainstream Israeli society in religious life, military service (with nearly all males doing national service), education, and politics. Similarly to other groups of immigrant Jews, who made aliya (immigrated) to Israel, the Ethiopians have faced obstacles in their integration to Israeli society. Most of the 100,000 Ethiopian Beta Israel living in Israel are immigrants and descendants of two main waves, the first in 1981-1984 and the second in 1991. These airlifts were known as Operation Moses and Operation Solomon, respectively. Civil war and famine in Ethiopia prompted the Israeli government to mount these dramatic rescue operations. The rescues were within the context of Israel's national mission to gather Diaspora Jews and bring them to the Jewish homeland. Ethiopian Jews are still being brought to Israel on a regular basis (there is a very small community still scattered there). Through absorption centers that provide "giant baby steps" into civilization, these wonderful people become a part of the Israeli family.
On our visit to Israel during the Juneteenth Israel Outreach 2015, we will meet with many members of the Jewish Ethiopian community, their leaders, communities and absorption centers.