Kas ba Kas (Ethiopian Integration in Israel) Peer Network
There are approximately 13,000 Jews in Ethiopia waiting to go to Israel. Some have been waiting at the Jewish compounds for more than 20 years. Their physical situation is often dire, with little work available to them.
Having discussed their complex political reality in our previous meeting, we now wish to get a better understanding of their physical plight, the humanitarian issues, and needs at play.
Join us as we seek to gain a better understanding of the situation on the ground in Ethiopia vis-à-vis the Jewish community.
Jeremy Feit is the volunteer President of SSEJ (Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry) since founding it in 2000. SSEJ’s Founding Honorary Chairman was Elie Wiesel and its current Honorary Chairman is Senator Joseph Lieberman. As President, Jeremy oversees SSEJ’s role as by far the largest provider of aid to the malnourished Jews in Ethiopia. SSEJ distributes over 2.5 million meals a year, runs a school for over 2,500 students and recently opened a medical clinic treating 3,300 children.
Negusi Alemu was born in Northern Ethiopia. After his family made aliyah he was separated from them for many years until Israel finally allowed him to make aliyah as well. He received degrees in Israel where he worked in education before returning to Ethiopia six years ago to run humanitarian programs and the local synagogue.
Dr. Arthur Eidelman trained in pediatrics and neonatology at Yale. He established the first Department of Neonatology in Israel at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center and is considered the “founding father” of neonatal medicine in Israel. Dr. Eidelman chaired the Department of Pediatrics at Shaare Zedek and was a Professor of Pediatrics at Ben Gurion University and Hebrew University. He served as International Editor of the Journal of Perinatology and Editor-in-Chief of the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Dr. Eidelman has extensive experience with the Jewish community in Ethiopia. He led nutritional surveys of the community which resulted in published peer reviewed articles. Dr. Eidelman recently returned from Ethiopia with physicians from Hadassah and Sha'aray Tzedek in conjunction with the opening of the SSEJ clinic serving 3300 Ethiopian Jewish children.
Howard Rieger had a four-decade career as a Jewish community organization professional: 11 years at the Cleveland Jewish Federation, concluding as their Operations Director; 24 years as President/CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, and 5 years as New York City-based President/CEO of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). During his federation tenure, Rieger was actively engaged in fundraising for Operations Moses and Solomon, the latter of which was facilitated by Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Asher Naim, with whom Rieger had a long personal relationship dating back to 1975. While at JFNA, he conceived of and was responsible for launching Operation Promise, which raised millions of dollars to enhance the aliyah and klitah of Ethiopian Jews. In retirement, Rieger has worked to raise funds to sustain the Beta Israel residing in Addis Ababa and Gondar, waiting, sometimes for decades, to join their community in Israel.
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