The Ministry of Absorption monitors the mortgage program and prices in the
housing market and updates the amount of the mortgages in various cities
on a regular basis. The last update was on September 15, 1995.
The program began in May 1993 and by the end of 1995, 85% of the 3,720
families that had lived in mobile home sites in May 1992 had purchased
homes or, in special cases, had moved into public housing, in over 65
communities throughout the country.
With the transfer to permanent housing in the various municipalities, the
Ministry of Absorption designed an absorption program for each community
providing assistance in the following areas: educational enrichment to
students studying in the school, employment programs for adults and women,
upgrading language skills, and, in particular, cooperative programs
between the general Israeli population and the Ethiopian immigrants in the
A survey published by the JDC - Brookdale Institute in November 1995, of
all the immigrants who had moved into a number of these communities has
revealed that the immigrants view the transition very positively.
The vast majority:
75-88% were satisfied with their new apartments
80-86% were satisfied with their new neighborhoods
76-96% viewed the relationships with their non-Ethiopian neighbors as
97% of the Ethiopian children play with non-Ethiopian children in their
On the one hand these findings are encouraging, however there are a number
of problems which need to be dealt with immediately:
The economic problems of the Ethiopian immigrants
High levels of unemployment among women
Low rates of participation of children aged 0-4 in preschool settings
The generally positive experience was confirmed in special sub studies of
the non-Ethiopian residents of some of these neighborhoods.
To vacate the mobile sites and complete the transition of Ethiopian
immigrants to permanent housing by providing special mortgage programs and
public housing in communities in the center of the country.
To expand programs of special assistance in cities with high
concentrations of immigrants in order to guarantee successful and suitable
integration into the community.
The efforts to integrate the Ethiopian Jews into employment focused on
providing basic skills, assisting them in making the transition from
subsistence agricultural work to the careers available in an industrial
society through a specially developed system of vocational training
Studies conducted by the JDC-Brookdale Institute in 1992-93 of those who
came in Operation Moses in the early 1980's indicated that many had been
successful in bridging the gaps. The findings revealed that:
The overall rates of employment for men were similar to that of other
The employment rate for women was significantly below that for other
Israelis, but increased over time and was influenced by the large number
of children and one-parent families.
A significant percentage, some 50% were in skilled jobs, as a result of
having participated in special training programs.
In mid 1992 the Ethiopian Jews who had come in 1991 in Operation Solomon
moved into mobile home sites throughout the country, which were operated
by the Ministry of Absorption in cooperation with the local
Between September 1992 and January 1993, responsibility for 22 mobile home
sites was transferred to the Ministry of Absorption.
At that time, a special emergency program was launched to integrate them
into the local workforce. The program involved a special network of
employment entrepreneurs to link the Ethiopians and potential employers.
Paraprofessional mentors from the earlier waves of Ethiopian immigrants
served as cross-cultural mediators with employers and special job
subsidies were provided.
Within some six months, the vast majority of the men had obtained
employment and small groups of women began entering the labor force.
The rate of unemployment among Ethiopian immigrants residing at mobile
home sites had declined to 10% by the end of 1995.
With the transition to permanent housing in 1994/5 the Ethiopian Jews
found it necessary for the most part to leave their jobs and begin again.
The survey published by the JDC-Brookdale Institute of the immigrants who
had moved into a number of communities indicated that for the most part
the Ethiopian community was capable of reintegrating into the labor force.
They were assisted by the same network of special employment assistance
that had operated in the temporary housing sites.
The survey found that:
The younger men (up to age 35) had achieved employment rates comparable to
Unemployment rates among men were low; however, middle-aged and older
immigrants had much lower employment rates than other Israelis, with the
gap widening with age.
The women were only beginning to enter the labor force, although their
participation was gradually increasing over time.
Over 50% of those employed were in skilled positions.
To implement professional training programs to guarantee an improvement in
the quality of employment of the immigrants and their integration into
more prestigious occupations in every area of the Israeli economy.
To increase the rate of labor force participation of those over age 45.
To develop special programs to increase the participation of Ethiopian
women in the labor force.
Access to education was limited in Ethiopia and thus the majority of
adults had little or no education.
Most of those who came as children had participated in some kind of
educational framework in their villages, but on arrival were well behind
their Israeli counterparts.
Policies with respect to the educational integration of the Ethiopians
differed by age group. For those of elementary school age, the policy was
to integrate them into school in their local communities. As most of the
Ethiopian parents preferred to send their children to Israel's national
religious school system, they tended to concentrated in a relatively small
number of schools. This often meant that the Ethiopian children
represented 15-25% and sometimes more of the total number of children.
It is estimated that there are 20,000 Ethiopian children in the school
system, about 5,000 of them in boarding schools, in the 1995/96 school
The children were first placed in separate classes within the schools in
order to provide them with the basic language instruction and background
that they would need in order to be integrated into regular classes. They
participated in these classes for about a year and in a special survey
conducted in 1993 by JDC-Brookdale, 70% were found to have been integrated
into regular classes. In 1995/96 the rate of those studying in integrated
classes is 95%.
In order to assist the schools in addressing this challenge, a range of
special assistance was provided. The assistance included:
* An allotment of extra teaching hours per child (1.7 hours per week with
no time limitation for those who came after January 1, 1991).
* Supplementary afterschool programs
The teenage population was integrated into the Youth Aliya network of
boarding schools (a project of the Jewish Agency) in consideration of the
fact that their families were living in temporary housing sites. With the
transition to permanent housing, there has been a shift in policy to
encourage teenagers to remain in their communities. The JDC-Brookdale
survey indicates that a significant percentage of the 14 year olds were
studying in their local communities in 1995.
This network of programs has been successful in largely preventing
dropouts among the Ethiopian population and assuring that almost all of
them complete 12 years of education. There remain, however, very
significant gaps in performance, both in the elementary schools and in
those completing high school relative to other Israeli children and there
are reports that there may be problems of irregular attendance among
subgroups, although these have not been documented. Reported dropout rates
are higher in the general Israeli population and much higher in the
lower-income groups in Israel than they are among the Ethiopians.
The State of Israel recognized that it will require a long-term commitment
to a special effort in order to address the educational gaps between
Ethiopian immigrants and other Israelis.
At the end of 1994, the Ministry of Education established a steering
committee to focus on the education of Ethiopian immigrants, headed by Dr.
Gadi Ben Ezer. The steering committee operates in the following areas:
coordination within divisions of the Ministry of Education, coordination
with external bodies which deal with educational areas, developing
long-term policy in the area of the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants,
and cooperating with the communities in developing and applying these
For the 1996 school year, the steering committee will have a total budget
of 15 million shekels. (Approximately 5 million Dollars.)
Approximately 380 Ethiopian children who have been identified as gifted
are studying in 1996 in the top schools throughout the country, within the
framework of a special project to identify and encourage gifted children
among the Ethiopians.
IV. Higher Education
A special effort has been made to integrate the Ethiopian population in
higher education, to promote social mobility and create leadership and
Thus, the government has developed special programs granting broad
assistance to each student of Ethiopian origin for the duration of his
studies, including those born in Israel. This is in contrast to students
from other countries, who are entitled to less assistance nd conditional
upon their beginning academic studies during the first two years after
their arrival in the country.
The assistance has included:
* Special scholarships to attend institutes of higher education.
* Special preparatory classes (for one or two years) are available in
Israel's universities and post-secondary institutions to prepare the
Ethiopians for the entrance exams.
* Student housing is provided at the government's expense to most students
* Living stipends are provided (only to Ethiopian students) to help them
to devote themselves more fully to their studies.
* Special supplementary high school years of study to enable them to
complete their high school matriculation exams, which are a prerequisite
for higher education.
These efforts have borne fruit. The number of students is shown in Table