NEW YORK (Mar. 13)
An Israeli social worker is proposing a new project to include vocational training and adult Jewish education for recently arrived Ethiopian Jewish emigrants in Israel.
David Bedein, currently touring the United States seeking seed money for the proposed project, The Ethiopian Torah Vocational Institute, said the idea grew out of a realization that emigrants need a long term assistance project in Israel, beyond the absorption process.
Bedein asserted in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that due to economic austerity measures, traditionally government subsidized projects in Israel for emigrants are threatened. He has proposed that the institute be housed in a former hotel in Safed, in Galilee. There are 800 Ethiopian Jews already living in Safed.
Bedein, a native of Philadelphia, went to Israel 14 years ago and is currently chairman of the Ethiopian Jewry department of the Root and Branch Association, a non-denominational American-based group, that seeks to publicize and promote non-Jewish activities in support of Jewish people and Israel, according to its literature.
SAFED INSTITUTE TO BE MODEL
Bedein said the Institute, as proposed, would serve as a “model vocational institute for educational training.” The project will need some $250,000 to begin operations. There are two stages involved in the project, according to Bedein who himself visited Jews in Ethiopia last December as a member of the delegation that included Rep. Gary Ackerman (D.NY).
The first stage for the Institute will involve the acquisition and transformation of a Safed hotel facility, along with purchase of equipment and hiring of professionally trained staff for carpentry production for export, Bedein explained.
In order to meet the need of religious education, Bedein has enlisted the services of Rabbi Yosef Adani, Chief Rabbi of Ethiopian Jewry, to create a program of religious instruction which will teach the essentials of Judaism.
Bedein hopes that the second stage of the project will lead to a sufficient influx of capital investments from Jews abroad that will aid in making the Institute self-sufficient. He also called on businesses in Israel to expand to help employ the newly trained emigrants.
Moreover, Bedein seeks to have the Safed project become a model for vocational and educational training that “will spread throughout Israel,” and in the long run working not only with Ethiopian Jews, but with all new emigrants to the Jewish State.