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Ethiopian-Israelis

 

When they arrived in Israel, most Ethiopian immigrants had no formal education and could not even read or write their native language, Amharic. The severity of this transnational culture shock cannot be underestimated. In many instances, Ethiopian immigrants have been forced to acclimate to technological and informational differences that have separated them from the rest of the Israeli community for hundreds of years. In addition to adjusting to life in a developed and technologically advanced society, Ethiopian immigrants must acculturate to an unfamiliar climate, a new language, and foreign religious rituals and social customs. This influx of Ethiopian Jews to Israel has given way to major issues. One of the greatest challenges has been determining how this group can integrate itself into Israeli society, and correspondingly, determining how this community of Jews can adapt to major cultural and social differences that accompany their relocation. 

The Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel released a report on November 19, 2014 regarding the Ethiopian-Israeli community:

  • Approximately 135,500 Ethiopian immigrants are living in Israel today. Of these, 49,600 were born in Israel.
  • The average household size in the Ethiopian community was 4.4 persons, higher than the average for the general population (3.3).
  • In 2009, children aged 0-14 comprised 29% of the Ethiopian population, compared to 26%  in the population of Jews and others.
  • The majority of the Ethiopian population lives in two districts: the Central District (38%) and the Southern District (24%). At the end of 2013, Netanya had the largest number of Ethiopian residents (10,900 persons).
  • 88% of married Ethiopians are married to Ethiopians
  • In 2009, Ethiopian households expended a monthly average of NIS 9,385 compared to NIS 14,501 for all households. The monthly expenditure on education, culture and entertainment among Ethiopian households was NIS 1,172, compared to the NIS 1,762 national average.

Facts and Figures on University Students (From the Central Bureau of Statistics 2014)

Current Situation

  • About 2,785 Ethiopian-Israelis comprise the student population, ages 20-30, and are enrolled in institutions of higher learning – 0.9% of the total student population in Israel
  • Number of students in Masters programs - 312

Goals/Challenges

  • Provide Ethiopian-Israeli students with the proper coping mechanisms to handle academic and social challenges that they may encounter throughout their studies. 
  • Enable Ethiopian-Israeli students to complete their degrees. 
  • Decrease school dropout rates.
  • Increase the number of students who go on to complete second and third degrees.
  • Make higher education more accessible - goal of increasing college matriculation by 700 students per academic year.

Facts and Figures on IDF Preparation (From the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption 2007)

Current Situation

  • About 3,500 Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers are serving in the IDF
  • The enlistment rate to the IDF is:
        • 90% for boys (72% native Israelis)
        • 69% for girls (58% native Israelis)
  • The percentage of soldiers who enlist in elite combat units - 40% (at the beginning of their service)

Goals/Challenges

  • Improve opportunities in army service - increase the percentage of commanders and officers who are placed in important positions.
  • Reduce army discharge - 24% of Ethiopian-Israelis are discharged before they complete their army service.
  • Decrease rates of imprisonment - national indexes state that 16% of Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers are imprisoned at least once over the course of their army service.
  • Improve education - 10% of Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers have completed only 10 years of schooling.
  • Assist in personal affairs - 36% of Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers are eligible for personal support services.

For Further Reading