An immigrant from Ethiopia holds an Israeli flag as she carries her child upon her arrival at Ben-Gurion International Airport in January 2011..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This past year saw the lowest number of Ethiopian olim since 2000, with only 211 Ethiopians making Aliyah in 2014, according to a report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday, ahead of Sigd, a national holiday marked by Ethiopian Jews.
The figure was some 85 percent lower than last year, which saw 1,355 Ethiopians arrive in Israel.
According to the annual report, the Ethiopian population in Israel stood at some 138,000 at the end of 2014 – 85,600 were born in Ethiopia and 52,600, in Israel to Ethiopian fathers.
The majority of the Ethiopian population lives in two central localities – 38% percent in the Center and 24% in the South, with Netanya having the largest Ethiopian community at 11,200, followed by Rishon Lezion with some 7,700; Beersheba with 7,100; Jerusalem with 5,600; and Tel Aviv with 2,600.
The Ethiopian population, the report said, was a relatively young one – 29% of them children up to the age of 14 and just 6% of the population over 65.
Some 89% of Ethiopians married within their community, according to the report, which found that, in 2013, the average age for an Ethiopian man to wed was 29, 1.2 years above the Jewish male average, while the average age for an Ethiopian woman to wed stood at 26.7-years-old, 1.9 years above the Jewish female average.
Ethiopian women gave birth to 3,433 babies in 2014, according to the report, which noted that the average Ethiopian woman has 2.9 children.
The average monthly household income for Ethiopian families stood at NIS 11,496, 37% less than the national household average of NIS 18,329, according to the report.
The report also determined that the average Ethiopian household has monthly consumption expenditures of NIS 10,075 compared to the national average of NIS 15,053, representing a 33% gap.
In addition, the findings indicated that the average Ethiopian household has 4.1 people compared to the national average of 3.3 people.
With regards to education, the 2013/14 academic year saw 46.4% of Ethiopian students in elementary through high schools study in the state education system, whereas 49.9% study in the state-religious education system.
Furthermore in the 2014/15 academic year 2,946 of roughly 300,000 students studying at institutions of higher learning in Israel were Ethiopian.
Of those, 88.5% pursued undergraduate degrees, 10.7% were studying for a Master’s degree and 0.5% pursued PhDs.
Derived from the Hebrew word for bowing or prostration, “sgida,” Sigd is celebrated on the 29th of Heshvan – 50 days following Yom Kippur.
On the holiday, the Ethiopian community rejoices for the renewal of the alliance between the people, God and His Torah and holds communal self-examination, in addition to that held in private during Yom Kippur. In accordance with tradition, the public must examine itself and amend itself socially to be worthy to return to Jerusalem from exile.