Our Jewish story begins with a promise, passed from generation to generation like a golden chain, etched in our collective memories and recorded in our books. This promise represents our hope to be a free people, to return to our historic homeland and to create a better future; it represents our dream to be a compassionate people, whose purpose it is to make the world a better place.
The Federations of North America accept this promise as our legacy and our opportunity. We are responsible for one another’s safety, health and quality of life. Operation Promise reminds us of our commitment to a rich tradition of generosity and justice that is the hallmark of the Jewish people.
$160 Million in New Funding Over Three Years
Operation Promise has been launched to complete, expand and continue the already extraordinary achievements of the federation movement: caring for hundreds of thousands of needy elderly and building and supporting the next generation of Jewish life in the FSU; and bringing the Ethiopian Jewish community home to Israel and helping them to take their rightful place in Israeli society. The programs are in place; the urgent needs have been well documented. Now is the time to implement the plan: $160 million in new funding over the next three years.
$23 million for the Falas Mura in Ethiopia: for welfare relief -- primarily food and temporary housing; Hebrew-language education and other vital aliyah preparation to help ensure a smoother absorption; and airfare to Israel.
$40 million for the initial absorption of the Falas Mura as the rate they arrive in Israel doubles from 300 to 600 each month; the absorption centers and the programs and services provided must be expanded.
$37 million towards critical initiatives to improve the educational opportunities for Ethiopians already living in Israel, who, without these opportunities, are in danger of becoming part of a permanent underclass.
$30 million for needy elderly Jews in the FSU who live in poverty, with virtually no government safety net.
$30 million for programs to connect to a generation of young Jews in the FSU, with no roots in Jewish life. Falling short means that we may lose them forever.
For a list of FAQs on Operation Promise, click here.
A solid investment
The programs that will benefit from Operation Promise are already up and running successfully, due in large part to the generosity of the many federations that have supported elective programs for the FSU and the Ethiopian community. We are confident that, because of their investment, our new dollars can and will be effectively utilized. Simply, good dollars after good dollars.
List of Programs Supported by Operation Promise
I. Falas Mura in Ethiopia: There are nearly 20,000 Falas Mura still in Ethiopia waiting to come home to Israel. They live in deplorable conditions, in overcrowded, impoverished urban areas in Addis Ababa and Gondar. With our help, the number of Falas Mura who arrive in Israel will double from 300 to 600 each month. At this rate, with new Operation Promise funds, all the Falas Mura will be in Israel by the end of 2007. Programs on the ground include:
- Welfare Services, including health clinics, a cash remittance for basic care and maintenance and school feeding program
- Educational activities, including school for children and Hebrew language study
- Aliyah preparation: maintaining the compounds for thousands of people, supporting the Health Ministry screenings, vocational training, Jewish studies and an introduction course on modern society
- Airfare to Israel
II. Initial absorption of the Falas Mura: There are currently 8,000 Ethiopian Jews in absorption centers, often for as many 24 months or more before they are able to move to permanent housing. The rate at which they arrive in Israel is now going to double; and our dollars will increase the capacity of absorption centers, as well as the programs and services designed to accelerate integration.
III. Ethiopians in Israel. More than 70% of Ethiopian Israelis live below the poverty line; more than half of adult men between the ages of 18 and 64 are unemployed. And, without our intervention, one in every four Ethiopian Israeli teenagers will drop out of school. Education is the most important component in reversing that trend, starting early and throughout a child’s school life.
Preschoolers: Only two-thirds of the 10,800 Ethiopian-Israeli pre-schoolers participate in JDC’s Parents and Children Together (PACT), a Head Start-like program. The new funding will expand PACT -- which has been hugely successful in helping to speed integration -- to include most of the others, and to extend PACT to include more elementary school children as well.
Teenagers: The majority of the nearly 19,000 Ethiopian middle- and high school-age teenagers need at least some remedial assistance to pass their matriculation exams, which in turn enables them to go on to college or other post high-school training. Academic enrichment programs like those provided through the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) now reach only 1 in 7 of these young people. Operation Promise will enable us to reach five times that many. And, every dollar contributed to the ENP is matched, dollar-for-dollar, by the Israeli government.
Young Adults: The Jewish Agency provides post-high school scholarship support to 2,300 students. As more children and young adults succeed, more scholarships will be needed.
IV. The Needy Elderly in the FSU: There are 232,000 elderly Jews struggling to survive; their pensions practically worthless.
About half are Holocaust survivors, who, through the annual-campaign supported Hesed network, receive goods and services totaling about $260 a year each from a variety of Holocaust restitution programs. While seemingly meager, it provides for basic needs -- food, medicine, home care and social services.
The more than 100,000 elderly who are not Holocaust survivors rely almost entirely on us. Our current allocation enables JDC to deliver goods and services totaling only $150 per person per year, which is well below the minimum subsistence level. And each year, JDC has been forced to cut back on services and to redefine ‘needy,’ removing less needy beneficiaries from our care. Operation Promise will bridge the gap.
V. The Next Generation of Jews in the FSU: There are some 50,000 young Jews in the FSU between the ages of 17 and 28; fewer than 10,000 are affiliated with anything Jewish. 80% will marry a non-Jewish partner.
If we don’t act now -- if the Federation system doesn’t properly fund existing programs and take advantage of committed partnerships -- the Jewish community in the FSU may very well simply fade away.
We’ve had success. For more than a decade, the Jewish Agency, in concert with JDC and a variety of other organizations, has been working with this population to build Jewish culture, to strengthen Jewish identity and the connection to Israel, and to cultivate a sense of belonging to the Jewish People. However, budget cuts are dramatically affecting these initiatives. Fully funding Operation Promise will:
- Send 6,250 more young Jews to summer camps, beyond the 11,000 we send now
- Extend camp programs from 7 to 14 days
- Give 600 students a $5,000 year-in-Israel scholarship, which matches Israeli funding
- Add 1,200 additional young people to the 500 who already participate in birthright Israel trips
Click here to make a donation to Operation Promise.
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