December 24, 2006 / 3 Tevet 5767
"This is the reason the United States Administration supports the Jewish Agency's efforts to absorb people coming from impoverished countries," said US Senator Joseph Lieberman as he and his wife Hadassah lit the seventh candle of Chanukah with new immigrants from Ethiopia at the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center.
"It is truly a wonder that Jews from all over the world can find a home in Israel," continued Lieberman warmly.
In Israel as part of a five member congressional delegation, following visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, Lieberman requested to visit the absorption center with his wife and meet the new immigrants.
After hearing the Ethiopian children's choir, conducted by a new immigrant from Uzbekistan with piano accompaniment from a new immigrant from Moscow, the Lieberman's marveled at this true "ingathering of the exiles."
Following the performance, the Lieberman's took part in a round-table discussion with four successful young Ethiopians who overcame terrible hardship to come to Israel. With the assistance of the Jewish Agency and its partners around the world, they are now an integral part of Israel society.
Baruch Teshome, a lawyer and international human rights activist, Haim Salem, who holds a BA in criminology and works for the Absorption Ministry to receive new Ethiopian immigrants at Ben Gurion Airport, Frai Belay, who earned her degree in communication and advertising and Kedma Zisano, the director of an Israeli NGO and part of the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) spoke openly with the Liebermans about their paths to success and their dreams for the future. They also expressed the pride they felt when Lieberman became the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in the United States.
Lieberman praised Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, Zeev Bielski, for his tireless work on behalf of the Jewish people, and stressed President Bush's strong support for Israel.
"With all its problems and threats to its security, Israel remains a light that continues to grow," said Lieberman as he and Hadassah sang along to traditional Israeli songs and Chanukah tunes in the absorption center's newly inaugurated social club. "Much of that effort comes from Ethiopian immigrants and you have contributed to making this country grow stronger."
First photo: Sasson Tiram
Second photo: Associated Press / Yahoo! News
e-blast cover photo: Jerusalem Post