The newly arrived Damitie family in their new apartment in Kiryat Gat
The newly arrived Damitie family in their new apartment in Kiryat GatJewish Agency

For the first time in over forty years, Ethiopian olim who landed yesterday (May 16) will immediately be placed in new apartments in one of the new neighborhoods of Kiryat Gat, as opposed to the usual process of acclimation to Israel that begins in an absorption center. This is a pilot program led by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency for Israel, with support from UJA-Federation New York. The initial group of families participating in the pilot program are olim with academic degrees who have been waiting for 22 years in Gondar, Ethiopia to make Aliyah.

The new olim will move to new apartments whose construction was recently completed and will also receive a wide range of support in the various aspects of acclimation to life in Israel.

In total, about 170 immigrants from Ethiopia will arrive in Israel this week. Some of these new olim will be received at Ministry of Aliyah and Integration absorption centers, run by The Jewish Agency. The goal is to enable the olim a soft landing and provide the support needed to acclimate. Over time, the goal is to have more olim participate in the accelerated acclimation program upon their arrival in Israel.

Director General of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, Adv. Avichai Kahana, said: "This is a reconceptualization of Aliyah from Ethiopia, in accordance with the policies advanced by Minister of Aliyah and Integration MK Ofir Sofer. When I took office, I met with organizations of Ethiopian olim and visited several absorption centers. The olim from Ethiopia now also come from urban centers and are highly educated. The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration is committed to providing olim the best possible service to help them in their new lives. The decision to move olim to live in apartments as part of an accelerated acclimation program from a comprehensive and up-to-date view of how olim are absorbed in Israel."

Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz said: "This new program of The Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Aliya and Integration, and UJA- Federation New York will allow olim from Ethiopia to integrate directly into the city upon their first steps in Israel, in new apartments rented by The Jewish Agency’s housing subsidiary, Amigour. This is part of a broader led by The Jewish Agency cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration with the aim of tailoring acclimation programs for Ethiopian olim in accordance with their skills and experience, helping them move into the tech industry, academia and more.”

UJA- Federation New York in Israel Director General Itzik Shmuli said: "The New York Federation is proud to continue supporting Aliyah from Ethiopia, as we have been doing for over 30 years. We are particularly excited to welcome the olim as we mark Israel’s 75th year and ensure their more direct acclimation, among other things, as another layer the building and resilience of the State. We will continue to act out of moral responsibility not to leave any Jew behind, together with our partners the Ministry of Aliyah and The Jewish Agency, in bringing the rest of those waiting to Israel."