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Israeli teenager who disappeared in Toronto contacts parents

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(JTA) — An Israeli teenager who disappeared from a Jewish leadership program in Toronto has contacted his parents, who said he was safe.

Raphael Arega Tesfaye, 16, a native of Ethiopia, contacted his parents twice last week, according to the Canadian Jewish News. His parents said he was with a friend and safe.

Canadian federation officials do not know where he is staying but would like to be in touch with him, the Jewish News reported.

Tesfaye was on a Jewish Agency-UJA Federation of Greater Toronto reciprocal program last month when he left the group and disappeared. He later called the organizers and his parents, as well as his sister, to tell them he had decided to leave the group and remain in Toronto.

The federation still has Tesfaye’s luggage and passport, which contains a six-month visa.

Local police forces, in cooperation with representatives of the Jewish Agency, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eilat authorities, and the welfare and educational authorities in Israel worked to locate the teen, according to the Jewish Agency.

The teen was participating in the Diller Teen Fellows, a Jewish leadership program for teenagers from across Israel and the Jewish world. Diller Teen Fellows in Israel participate in a yearlong program that includes a reciprocal visit to an overseas Jewish community, where they meet and interact with other Diller fellows.

The rest of the group returned to Israel as planned. Ten Toronto teens are scheduled to travel to Eilat this summer as part of the Diller program.
 

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