US senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) visited the Ethiopian National Project’s Ramle youth outreach center on Tuesday as part of a Middle East congressional trip.
Accompanied by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Likud MK Avraham Neguise, the senators, both of whom are African-American, toured the outreach center, met with staff and shared a traditional Ethiopian meal.
“It was really uplifting to get a chance to meet members of the Ethiopian community,” Booker told The Jerusalem Post.
Scott called the project “extraordinary,” saying it was important to learn about “the process of helping Ethiopian Jews acclimate to Israel.”
The Ethiopian National Project, created in 2001, is a joint partnership program funded by the Government of Israel and Diaspora Jewry that aims to assist Israelis of Ethiopian descent to integrate into and succeed in Israeli society.
The Education Ministry recently asked the ENP to expand its Scholastic Assistance Program to reach some 9,000 students in 37 cities from grades three to 12.
Roni Akale, ENP director-general, told the Post that education is key to improving integration into Israeli society: “Without education, they cannot go anywhere.”
According to the ENP, some 12,000 Ethiopian school-age youth require scholastic assistance, representing about a third of the Ethiopian student population.
There are around 140,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent living in Israel.
Akale believes education also will help curb elements of racism toward Israelis of Ethiopian decent. “We must educate ourselves to decrease these kinds of racism and educate outsiders about the Ethiopian community,” he said.
Qes Efraim Lawi, a spiritual leader of
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