NEW YORK, NY — September 20, 2010 — Following an intensive two-year study program supported by ORT in partnership with the UJA-Federation of New York, a group of 60 underachieving youths have embarked on careers as technicians.
The young men, many of them immigrants from Ethiopia and the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States, graduated from the electronic engineering diploma course at Emek HaYarden College to take up positions in the Israeli Air Force, including elite research units.
“We are deeply grateful to the UJA-Federation of New York for joining with us to nurture and promote educational, technological excellence among all populations in Israel,” said Alan E. Klugman, National Executive Director of ORT America. “Thanks to the munificence of UJA’s donors, these young men, many of whom were unable to realize their potential at school because they did not have the requisite math and physics qualifications, were given a second chance — all passing with flying colors. They can now look forward to a significant and interesting service in the IDF and a reliable and a rewarding civilian career,” he added with pride.
Roni Rubenstein, Chair of the UJA-Federation of New York’s Ethiopian Israeli Task Force said, “We are thrilled with the success of this program and continue to be committed to the full integration of Ethiopian Israelis into Israeli society.”
The IDF, the Ministries of Education and Religious Affairs, and Youth Aliyah Organization also contributed to meeting the costs of the Adir BeMarom program and ORT provided a number of scholarships to Ethiopian students.
During the course, the students became known as the “Kadima Mada Class,” the name of ORT America’s program in Israel.” They lived at the Adir BeMarom’s residential center; a warm, structured and supportive environment, which helped them to meet the challenge of doing the extra studies necessary to keep up with the diploma course. They also underwent a cultural enrichment program that provided them with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Israel, including study trips, Torah study and pastoral care. Despite their extra workload, they graduated at the same time as the other students — a clear sign of their motivation as well as proof of the quality of the program.
Graduates of the program will also benefit by having to serve for five years in the military instead of three — the final two years on full pay, which can be up to ten times more than the stipend given to those doing regular national service. Their diploma is also recognized internationally, cutting in half the time it would take them to do an engineering degree.
One of the young students in the program, Asher, made Aliyah with his family six years ago.
“I have eight brothers and sisters, and since my parents are unemployed, it has been very difficult for us economically, he said. I decided to study for a degree in electronics engineering to enable me to assimilate more easily into Israeli society and to be able to support my family in the future…I will proudly serve my country when I join the air force.”