Feeling Good in Israel

(Jewish Agency Israel) Twenty one year old Yonas Shiferaw was born in the mountainous southern region of Ethiopia. When he was seventeen, his family moved to Addis Ababa and his father found a job working for the municipality. The family lived in their own home, not in the Ethiopian compound, and Yonas completed high school.

In August 2004, Yonas, his parents and two brothers made aliyah. Their first home in Israel was the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Absorption Center in Haifa. Seeing that Yonas completed high school, he was recommended for Kedma, an educational advancement program for young Ethiopians.

“At first, I did not want to leave my family and go on this program, but deep down I understood that Kedma would help me advance and give me a head start in Israel.”

Yonas went to the IBIM student village, near Sderot, where the Kedma program is located. He met many other Ethiopians his own age and was rapidly absorbed in his studies. Kedma participants live at the Village and study Hebrew, math, English and computers at the nearby Sha’ar Hanegev Regional College. This intensive nine-month program prepares participants for professional training or academic studies in Israel. Yonas, who is on the academic track, has successfully adapted to the Israeli education system.

“After completing Kedma, I want to go to the pre-academic preparatory program at Haifa University and then study for a BA in architecture. My father was an engineer in Ethiopia and I know I can be a good architect.”

Yonas says he feels good in Israel and, for a recent newcomer, his Hebrew is incredibly fluent. The only thing that is missing in Yonas’ life is his younger brother, who the family is trying to bring to Israel with the help of the Jewish Agency.