This week we would like to start by asking you the question, what do you see when you imagine an Israeli person?
You don’t need to give us an answer, just think about it. What picture comes to your mind when you think about Israelis?
Maybe some of you think about a relative or a friend that you have in Israel, maybe some of you think about Noam & Bar, Aviv & Tal or even about us.
But today we want to mention a population that is not the majority in Israel, and we think it is very important to talk about this community- especially this week.
Ethiopian Jews started making “Alyah” in the early 1960’s. First illegally as individuals and only later in two waves of mass immigration assisted by the Israeli government: Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991. Today Israel is home to the largest Ethiopian Jewish community in the world with more than 138,000 people, and they make up about 2% of Israel population.
As a minority in the country coming from a very different environment, speaking a different language and celebrating a different culture, many Ethiopian Jews have had a hard time becoming a part of the Israeli society.
In the past year many issues such as discrimination, police brutality and racism towards Ethiopian Jews have surfaced causing a rise of awareness regarding their status.
Last year many of them decided to take action and demonstrate on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some of these demonstrations turned into violent riots but their purpose was a call for peace and equality. Despite the wrongful behavior of our society one man was able to rally above, by making history in the IDF.
5 days ago Lieutenant Colonel Avi Yitzhak has graduated from the IDF’s prestigious course for brigade commanders, thus becoming the first Ethiopian Israeli brigade commander.
Lieutenant Colonel Avraham Yitzhak will be promoted to the commander of medicine in the southern command. He made an Aliyah in 1994 in the age of 19, all on his own. Today he lives in Be’er Sheva with his wife and 4 children.
Yitzhak started his medicine degree before he made an Aliyah, when he was just 16 years old. He completed his studies in the Ben Gurion University and while finishing his medicine PHD he began his army training. After many years serving in the IDF he was able to inspire his entire community with his latest achievement.
We chose to talk about him today because we have had the privilege to hear him speak in the ASI (Association for soldiers of Israel) concert just two months ago. In which he received a standing ovation for saying “”The sky is the limit. In my community, people need to understand this,”. Although Avi Yitzhak broke the glass ceiling, we still need to remember that we have a long way to go in order to improve the status of Ethiopian-Israeli Jews and any other minority in the Israeli society. And we can only do it by changing our perception and accepting different people.