Fulfilling the ancient dream of ingathering the exiles, Israel has absorbed and continues to absorb tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and some one million Jews from the Former Soviet Union (FSU.) While the country was riveted by the dramatic airlift of more than 30,000 Ethiopian Jews through Operations Moses and Solomon in the 1980’s and ’90’s, and by the mass immigration of Soviet Jews after the fall of the Iron Curtain, fascination and joy has turned to apathy, neglect and even racism.
Today, Israel’s Ethiopian and Russian immigrants are still a population in transition. Many live in impoverished slums, where even menial jobs are scarce. A lack of educational opportunities has relegated many to jobs with little upward mobility. Compounded by racial discrimination and cultural obstacles, these problems have given rise to disproportionally high rates of juvenile crime, school drop out, domestic violence and unemployment. Over the past 30 years, Shatil’s Assistance to Organizations of Immigrants from the FSU and Assistance to Ethiopian Immigrants initiatives have helped both communities transform from passive recipients of aid into active participants in addressing the challenges their communities face.
Staffed by immigrant activists, Shatil has helped dozens of immigrant groups and countless community activists acquire the tools and skills they need to effect social change through:
- Training: workshops and courses to learn about Israeli democracy, rights and services, and to acquire new skills
- Leadership: courses to empower men, women and students toward activism, grassroots involvement and leadership
- Organization building: strategic planning, personnel management and program development for national and local grassroots organizations
- Coalition building: collaboration on issues affecting immigrants such as Jewish identity, assisting youth-at-risk and preventing domestic violence
- New Voices: Empowering key figures in the community to speak out, using a combination of old and new media, on such issues as democracy, social justice and shared society.
Ethiopian Immigrants Initiative
Twenty-three years after the dramatic Operation Moses brought the first mass aliyah of Ethiopian Jews home to Israel, the State’s 110,000 Ethiopians are a community in crisis. While some Ethiopian Jews have succeeded in integrating, for too many, the centuries-old dream of returning to Zion has turned into a nightmare of high juvenile crime and school drop out rates, rampant unemployment, racism and domestic violence.
Since 1990, Shatil has trained hundreds of Israelis of Ethiopian descent to assume leadership positions and take responsibility for their communities. Shatil focuses on women, students and Ethiopian grassroots groups, providing them with the tools needed to strengthen their communities from within through specially designed courses, consultation and coalition building.
Helping Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union
Over one million strong, immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) should and can be a significant force in the pluralistic, democratic development of Israeli society. However, despite the skills, experience, talent and energy they brought with them to Israel, FSU immigrants have faced formidable challenges in acclimating to Israeli society. Chief among them are an education system ill-equipped to meet their needs, a job market that does not appreciate their skills and a dearth of affordable housing. In 1991, when immigrants from the FSU were just beginning their massive influx into Israel, Shatil launched its Initiative to Assist Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union to serve as an organizational support system. Through workshops, direct consultation and proactive outreach, Shatil’s assistance to organizations helps immigrant groups and countless community activists develop the tools they need to affect social change. Shatil has also been working to open Israel’s Russian language internet media to include views promoting the values of democracy, shared society and social justice.
Inbal Rada trekked the scorching Ethiopian desert with a baby on her back wondering how – or even if – they wou...
After more than two decades, 9,300 Ethiopian Jews will finally be able to emigrate to Israel. Known as Falash Mura,...
In early June, one hundred leaders from Israel’s Russian-speaking community, NGOs, diplomats, and peace activis...