Each scholarship through the Ethiopian Israeli College Scholarship Fund contributes $11,000 toward the full tuition of a student.

By Marvin Glassman |

Israeli Tesema Samuel is not just another university student who needed to say I love my school when he spoke to supporters for the Israel based Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah recently in Hollywood.

The 32-year-old Samuel was born in Gendawa, Ethiopia, an impoverished nation that offered him little hope for a life of prosperity, prior to immigrating to Israel. Samuel is a member of the Beta Israel community, which numbers approximately 125,000, according to the Israel Center of Statistics.

Samuel is today a banker, married to a lawyer with a six-month-old daughter living in Israel.

His successful integration into Israeli society is considered remarkable, given that the Beta Israel community suffers from high rates of illiteracy due to the oral nature of rural living in Ethiopia.

“When I arrived in Israel and saw that I was poor, I vowed first of all to learn Hebrew and do all I can to have a successful life,” said Samuel. He also went on to serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Samuel is a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Broward County‘s Ethiopian-Israeli College Scholarship Fund, which is championed by Ben J. and Dorit Genet of Hollywood.

“This scholarship was central to my ability to acquire a higher education. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to afford to study at IDC Herzliyah,” said Samuel.

“I created the program in 2005 on my own initiative when I went to a Federation mission to Ethiopia and learned about the needs of the Ethiopians to adapt to modern Israeli life,” said Ben J. Genet, who hosted the event to raise funds for the Ethiopian Israeli College Scholarship Fund at his home.

“The scholarship started when I wrote a $100,000 check in memory of my father in 2005. Since then, we have raised over $500,000. It is so rewarding to meet Tesema and other Ethiopian-Israelis who have the drive and intelligence to succeed in life,” said Genet.

Tuition is fully subsidized for the Ethiopian-Israeli students. In addition to the free tuition, each student receives many services, such as unlimited tutoring, a free laptop computer and participating in overseas internships opportunities and participation in campus tours around the world.

Each scholarship through the Ethiopian Israeli College Scholarship Fund contributes $11,000 toward the full tuition of a student.

Genet, who is president of Genet Property Group, is proud that the Ethiopian-Israeli College Scholarship Fund will support six more students in 2016.

Genet also noted that, although the scholarship fund program has reached out to many Ethiopian-Israeli students since 2005, there are still only 1,250 Ethiopians who attended their first year of college.

“There is a real danger that Israel will have an underclass society. In Judaism, we are steadfast in our belief of a world in which every Jew is responsible for the other,” said Genet.

“Therefore, our support cannot end after they (Ethiopian-Israelis) take their first steps on Israeli soil.”

To learn more about the Ethiopian Israeli College Scholarship Fund from the Jewish Federation of Broward County, 5890 S. Pine Island Road in Davie, contact Nikki Packer at 954-252-6902 or email her at npacker@jewishbroward.org

Source: Sun Sentinel
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6 Responses

  1. Makdas

    Most beta Israel members went to Israel in 1980s’. How many decades does it take to learn to read, to put kids to school etc.? You cannot use the same excuses decades after decades. As an Ethiopian I’m puzzled to read about these same problems over and over again. Push harder. Aim higher.

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