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There are approximately 12,000 Jews living in Ethiopia, most of whom are waiting to immigrate to Israel. The largest community is in Gondar, with a smaller Jewish community in Addis Ababa. Most of the families live below the poverty line, with a typical home being one room and made of mud / straw, and without running water, kitchens, or toilets.

The volunteer trip that inspired us to start Operation Ethiopia included a four day visit to the Gondar Jewish community, where we ran activities for hundreds of children. We were shocked to find out that there were Jews still living in Ethiopia waiting to come to Israel (we'd been living in Israel for 10 years and thought they'd all been brought to Israel decades prior). We were struck to see hundreds of adults and children attending Jewish prayer services in Gondar, wearing kippot  and practicing Hebrew, and living in horribly impoverished conditions -  with limited food, clothing, clean water, and access to medical care.

The Gondar Jewish community centers around the "HaTikvah" Synagogue which is a space with a corrugated tin roof and open sides, benches for seating, and some rooms sectioned off by tin walls. They meet for prayer services three times a day, and due to the generosity of SSEJ there are Jewish classes and Israeli volunteers who run programs to teach Hebrew language and Jewish studies. There is a similar center for the smaller Jewish community in Addis Ababa.


Feeding Program

We work closely with SSEJ to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Jews in Gondar and Addis Ababa are provided for. Our Feeding program for malnourished Children and nursing moms has had a significant positive impact. The program, which we started in 2019, has helped to curb the stunting of children due to malnutrition. The program also employs locals to prepare, serve and clean up the meals, and procure the food.

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Medical Care

We provide eyecare, eye surgeries, sight-restoring cataract surgeries, and pediatric and elder medical care to the members of the community. During our first visit in 2014 we were shocked to learn that most people in the Ethiopian Jewish community did not have access to doctors or medical care of any kind. The community is in far better condition medically due to our work over years. Since we have brought 15 Ethiopian doctors to Israel so far to get specilized training, we have physicians in and near Gondar and Addis who can help when needs for people in the community arise.

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