LEARN about the challenges facing Ethiopians in Israel
PARTICIPATE in Ethiopian Jewish dance, music, and craft activities
INTERACT with Ethiopian Israeli leaders
and, of course,
EAT savory and healthy Ethiopian food
If you're new to Isabella Freedman, check out our Frequently Asked Questions for information about where we're located, arrival and departure times, what to bring, etc.
Roni Akale is the Director-General of the Ethiopian National Project. Like thousands of others who endured the hardships of aliyah during Operation Moses, Dessie (Roni) Akale crossed Ethiopia by foot, walking 800 kilometers, then waited in Sudan until finally reaching Jerusalem in December 1983 at the age of 20. Roni obtained a BA in Social Work from Haifa University in 1990, and later went on to obtain an MA in Management and Public Policy Administration from Ben Gurion University. He holds additional training experience in the realms of educational leadership and non-profit management. Roni served as a Mental Health officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He played a critical role during Operation Solomon in May 1991, applying his personal and professional experience to assist the newcomers during this historical airlift in which 14,325 Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in 36 hours.
Roni brings rich professional experience to the role of Director-General. He was Manager of the nation-wide network of moked klitah service centers for immigrants on behalf of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, overseeing 21 cities and towns. He served as a family social worker in the municipality of Ashdod, and was the Director of Ethiopian Job Placement and Counseling with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. In addition, he has carried out a wide variety of volunteer roles and has served in myriad leadership positions in his rich career of aiding the Ethiopian-Israeli community with his expertise, including being elected as Chairman of the Representatives of Ethiopian Jewish Organizations in Israel between 2008 to 2010.
Roni, 47, concluded his post as the Chief Executive Officer of FIDEL Association for Education and Social Integration of Ethiopian Jews in Israel, which he has held since 2007, to assume the role of Director-General of ENP in April 2011. Roni lives in Ashdod, is married and father of four sons.
In 1980, Yefet Alemu left his small village in Ethiopia to go to Israel. He was arrested in Addis Ababa and escaped from prison. He arrived in the Gondar region and then set out walking to Sudan. There he met a Jewish Red Cross director who arranged for him to fly on one of the Israeli-organized secret flights to Israel. In Israel he studied and became a nurse. While continuing to be a believing Jew, Yefet became disillusioned with organized Judaism and the Israeli religious establishment's insistence on a conversion ceremony for all Ethiopian Jews. Yefet helped organize an Ethiopian protest vigil opposite the Chief Rabbinate building in Jerusalem. At the vigil, he met students from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies who were studying to be Conservative rabbis. He was confused and surprised to see that they were without beards and without long black coats. The students replied that there was more than one type of rabbi, more than one way of being Jewish. Yefet excitedly embraced this pluralistic approach to Judaism. He was accepted by the Schechter Institute and after 6 years of hard work, he received a BA, MA, and his rabbinical ordination Rabbi Alemu will be leading our Shabbat services throughout the weekend.