Ethiopian Integration Program

Our “Ethiopian Integration Program” provides students of Ethiopian descent with specialized educational and cultural enrichment programming.

Israel launched “Operation Moses,” “Operation Solomon” and other projects to rescue Ethiopian Jews from famine, creating today’s community of over 125,000 Israeli citizens of Ethiopian descent

BSEC’s commitment to Ethiopian Jews began with an agreement with the Ministries of Education and Absorption to accept 28 newly arrived teenage boys in 1999. Encouraged by successful integration of these students at BSEC, the Ministry of Education referred more and more of the boys to our care.

The waves of immigration from Ethiopia have generally finished and most Ethiopian students today have grown up in Israel. Nonetheless, a lack of exposure to spoken Hebrew in the home, and lingering poverty have perpetuated the barriers hindering the academic progress of these students and prevents them from developing relationships with their Hebrew-speaking classmates.

Often, their schools and teachers are unable to meet their specific needs, exacerbating the academic, cultural, linguistic, and social challenges they face. In many cases there are cleavages between the older and younger generations of Ethiopian immigrants as the younger try to “fit in”. This can also lead to alcohol and drug abuse from an early age and dropping out of school. BSEC therefore continues to accept many Ethiopian students identified as “at risk” by local social welfare authorities.

Upon arrival at the BSEC, each Ethiopian student undergoes a thorough assessment to identify his strengths and weaknesses. The student is then placed in the appropriate class level, where he receives targeted educational enrichment and tutoring. To strengthen their connection to Israel, the BSEC organizes field trips for the boys to better understand the history, traditions, and geography of the land. Additionally, when these students approach their thirteenth birthday, they receive bar mitzvah lessons and make their own tefillin, preparing them for their special day at the BSEC that they share with their friends and families.

Over 300 Ethiopian students have successfully participated in the Bet Shemesh Educational Center’s targeted integration program where they are given the individualized focus and attention they need to succeed socially and academically in Israel.