Another eventful week has flown by and once more it’s time for another Good News Friday installment.
In a move signaling the end of organized Ethiopian immigration to Israel, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky turned over the keys to the Jewish school of Gondar to the Ethiopian city’s mayor.
Monday’s handover ceremony of the school, which was funded and maintained by the Jewish Agency, came as the final flight of Ethiopian immigrants prepared to leave for Israel.
Some 2,500 Ethiopian children awaiting immigration to Israel studied in the school. The agency donated all the school buildings and equipment to the municipality of Gondar.
“Jews lived in Gondar for 2,500 years; however, their longing to return home never weakened,” Sharansky said at the ceremony. “Today we bring to an end a journey that spans thousands of years — the conclusion of Operation Wings of a Dove.”
Those words brought me out in goosebumps.
Operation Wings of a Dove was launched in November 2010 when the Israeli government decided to check the aliya eligibility of an additional 8,000 Ethiopians.
The petitioners are known as Falash Mura — Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago but now seek to return to Judaism and immigrate to Israel. They have been accepted to Israel under different rules than those governing other immigrants.
A steady trickle of approximately 200 Ethiopian immigrants per month has been coming to Israel since 2010.
A final flight of 400 Ethiopian immigrants is set to arrive in Israel on August 28. Nearly 7,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, the majority of whom are Falash Mura, have immigrated to Israel since 2010.
The Jewish Agency emissary to Ethiopia, Asher Seyum, announced earlier in the year that the agency would hand over its aid compounds in Gondar to local authorities at the end of August.
For years the compounds — originally established by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry and only recently taken over by the Jewish Agency — provided thousands of Ethiopians waiting to immigrate to Israel with educational, nutritional and some employment services.
After next week’s final flight, Ethiopians wishing to immigrate to Israel will be subject to the same rules as potential immigrants from elsewhere in the world and considered on a case-by-case basis.
The Israeli government has declared an official end to mass Ethiopian immigration several times. Each time, however, aliya from Ethiopia resumed after pressure by advocates.
In August 2008, for example, the government declared mass Ethiopian immigration over only to reverse course several months later and agree to check the aliya eligibility of 3,000 additional Ethiopians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in May 2009 that those would be the last Ethiopians to be checked en masse, but that decision was reversed in 2010, opening the door for this latest group of immigrants.
Calling the decision to end Ethiopian aliya “sensitive and complex,” Seyum, the Jewish Agency emissary, acknowledged pressure from the Ethiopian community in Israel for the aliya to continue but said he was bound by the government’s decision to end it.
Israel is home to some 120,000 Ethiopian-born Jews or their descendants, most of whom came during two major immigration operations — Operation Moses in 1984, and Operation Solomon in 1991.
It appears from Seyyum’s words that there are still some Ethiopians remaining who wish to make Aliya, but evidently the great majority of the community has already arrived in Israel. Truly the requests in our prayers and the words of the Nevi’im (Prophets) are coming true in front of our eyes!
My next item (via reader Reality) talks about Israel’s success in the green-tech revolution: Israel’s “green house” came in first in the energy section of a global environmental competition, with an overall 4th place:
The final results are in, and Israel is officially a world power in environmentally sensible home design. Overall, Team Israel came in fourth in the biennial Solar Decathlon, a contest that pits design and technology teams from around the world against each other to see who can come up with the best “house of the future.”
Israel’s entry, an 85-meter modular house built of locally-produced materials, came in first in the “energy balance” category for homes that produce more energy than they consume. It also won the hot water production category, and was second in the architecture category and fourth in the market appeal category.
The Solar Decathlon, a contest with 10 categories first held in 2002, is sponsored by the US Department of Energy. This was the first time the contest has taken place outside the US. The purpose of the contest, which is open to teams from universities and colleges around the world, is to encourage teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house.
Contestants build a model of their design, which is put on display at the contest site. Awards are granted for designs that make the best use of solar energy in such categories as architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, appliances and home entertainment. Team Israel, which included students and faculty from nearly a dozen Israeli academic institutions, was chosen last year in a semifinal event as one of 20 teams to participate in this year’s finals.
The Israeli house was built with a modular design, which will allow it to be expanded as necessary. The house, according to team leaders, was actually a modern take on a “house of the past, inspired by the typical Iron Age Israelite ‘four-room house,’ examples of which have been excavated at various archaeological sites in modern day Israel and around the Levant area.”
The house, a single-family dwelling, was to be built around an open patio, providing ventilation and light. The design stresses the connection of the indoor and the outdoor spaces, team leaders said, “increasing our awareness of the environment and reducing energy and resource dependence.”
The house also displayed the latest in Israeli-designed environmental and energy innovations, some of which were displayed for the first time at the Decathlon. For example, it was equipped with an array of photovoltaic panels, producing electricity from sunshine, along with high-transparency PV glass units for curtain walls and skylights, developed by Israeli start-up Pythagoras Solar. These solar power generation systems ensured that the house was able to produce more than enough electricity to keep all its appliances going and even produce more electricity than needed. Special insulation materials, also developed in Israel, ensured that a minimum of energy was expended on energy, the group said.
Oded Chai, administrative director of the project, praised the team for its awards, which it achieved on a shoestring budget.
“With a quarter of the budget available to the other top contenders, Israel has for the first time shown that it is possible to build a home with a negative energy balance. We believe that this accomplishment can have a major impact on the cleantech world, and not just in Israel,” he added.
Here’s a video of the ingenious technology that enabled the building of the green house:
A huge mazal tov to the entire Israeli team for their innovation, creativeness and technical genius. Kol hakavod to everyone involved.
My last item for today (via Israellycool) comes from a remarkable young woman, the daughter of a South African Parliamentarian, who in very clear strong words counteracts the vicious lies of those who claim that Israel is an apartheid state.
Watch this video and spread it around. Who better than a black South African to refute the vicious apartheid lies about Israel?
Israellycool also has a video of Ms. Meshoe’s amazing father. The apple did not fall far from the tree at all. Kol hakavod to the Meshoe family for their bravery in telling “truth to power”. May they be blessed for their good work.
With these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!