The Ethiopian population in Israel stood at some 135,500 at the end of 2013 – 85,900 who were born in Ethiopia and 49,600 born in Israel to Ethiopian fathers, according to a report released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, the eve of Sigd, a national holiday marked by Ethiopian Jews.
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 10,900, followed by Rishon Lezion with some 7,400; Beersheba with 7,100; Jerusalem with 5,900; and Tel Aviv with 2,300.
The Ethiopian population, the report said, was a relatively young one – 29% children up to the age 14 and just 6% of the population over 65, compared to 12% of the general Jewish and “other” populations in Israel.
Some 88% of Ethiopians married their community, according to the report, which found that, in 2012, the average age for an Ethiopian man to wed was 29.3 years-old, 1.5 years above the Jewish male average, while the average age for an Ethiopian woman to wed stood at 26.4-years-old, 0.7 years above the Jewish female average.
Meanwhile, 3,126 babies were born to Ethiopian mothers in 2013, according to the report, which noted that the average Ethiopian woman gives birth to 2.8 children, compared to 3.05 children among the overall Jewish population.
The report also indicated that 1,355 new immigrants arrived from Ethiopia in 2013, an almost 50% reduction in aliya from the previous year.
The average monthly household income for Ethiopian families stood at NIS 11,453 compared to a national household average of NIS 17,711, according to the report, which also determined that the average Ethiopian household has monthly consumption expenditures of NIS 9,385 compared to the national average of NIS 14,501 – both represent a 35% gap.
In addition, the findings indicated that the average Ethiopian household has two wage earners – above the national average of 1.5.
However, the average Ethiopian household has 4.4 people compared to the national average of 3.3 people.
With regards to education, 45.3% of Ethiopian students in elementary through high schools study in the state education system, whereas 51.3% study in the state-religious education system.
In 2013, the percentage of Ethiopian graduates who took the matriculation examinations stood at 88%, compared to 82% of Jewish students.
However, the findings indicated that only 50% were eligible for the matriculation certificate, compared to 63% of Jewish students overall.
With regards to higher education, the 2013/14 academic year, the report found that some 2,785 of the 312,528 students studying at institutions of higher learning in Israel were Ethiopian. Of those, 88% pursued undergraduate degrees, 11.2% were studied 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.