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Bridging the gap

Posted on 4/10/2014 by Ariel Rudolph
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Each year Israel Today distributes food packages to needy immigrants in absorption centers (Merkazei Klitah - in Hebrew) where many new immigrants experience their first home in Israel during a difficult transition period.

One of the largest Merkazei Klitah in Israel is the one in Mevasseret Zion. Most of the 1,200 immigrants who live there are originally from Ethiopia. More than fifty percent of these new immigrants are young people under 18 years old.

Some of the Merkaz Klitah's staff are themselves veteren ex-Ethiopians. The staff assist the immigrants to overcome the cultural gap that they experience between rural Ethiopia and the modern, fast-paced society in Israel.

A number of programs are offered in the Mevasseret Zion Merkaz Klitah to help immigrants learn a new language, culture and lifestyle. The facilities include Hebrew language classes, called Ulpan, a computer room, a youth center, clinics, a mother and child health center and a game room for kids. More than the brick and mortar, these newcomers receive the necessary tools to integrate into Israeli society.

The absorption center also offers educational programs to teach the immigrants about Israeli culture, customs and holidays. In addition, sport, theater and music activities are offered for children.

For Israel Today it is important to help to create a warm atmosphere for these new immigrants during Passover. Passover is the holiday of freedom and we want to let them feel that they have been liberated from poverty and hunger.

By Ora Shapiro