Jews from all over the world have been coming to Israel in droves since the state’s founding – among them, the tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who began arriving in the 1980s. However, coming from an agriculturally based society, Ethiopian immigrants have faced immense challenges integrating into modern Israel, and have been far less successful at doing so than the millions of Soviet Jews who arrived in the ’90s. While there are famous success stories such as Yityish Aynaw, the country’s first Ethiopian-born Miss Israel, the reality is that around half of the community remains below the poverty line, and many older Ethiopians are illiterate.

One of the organizations trying to help Ethiopian Jews in Israel is the Ethiopian National Project, which was founded in 2004. However, unlike many similar groups, it is not just an organization for Ethiopians; it is also run by Ethiopians. Ethiopian Israelis serve as staff members and community liaisons, allowing the community to state its needs rather than having them assumed.

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