The goal of the Absorption Center is to help integrate and prepare olim for independent living within Israeli society.
The Mevasseret Zion absorption center is located in the Jerusalem hills in the town of Mevasseret Zion. In May 1999, the center was designated specifically for Ethiopian olim. It is presently divided between two sites with approximately 1,300 occupants. The center is conveniently situated in the heart of a residential neighborhood, next to a large mall. Among the services available, are a supermarket, post office, bank, pharmacy, electrical goods store, clothing stores and cafes. In addition, the center is a 15-minute drive from the city of Jerusalem and there is regular bus service to and from Jerusalem every 15-20 minutes.
A JCRC-NY delegation visited the Jewish Agency's Mevasseret Zion Absorption, August, 2010.
The 360 residential units are made up of mostly one story buildings in an area of over 13 acres (50 dunams) of land. The complex includes 23 public buildings used for offices, classrooms, clubs, computer rooms, dormitories, two health clinics, sport fields and a library. The broad expanses and mountainous views of Mevasseret Zion, together with the low buildings of the Center’s complex, contribute to a positive atmosphere and connect the residents to a more traditional Ethiopian lifestyle.
Residential units are of various sizes and come equipped with basic furnishing. The Center makes every effort to ensure personal attention and a warm inviting atmosphere. Upon arrival, families are welcomed with food provisions for their first days.
Activities and Special Projects
The Center provides activities for both adults and children. For adults, this includes Hebrew studies, conversion classes, seminars, community activities, workshops on subjects such as parenting, employment, consumerism and trips around Israel.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown surrounded by kindergartners and staff at the Jewish Agency's Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center.
Activities for children focus on educational reinforcement and enrichment in subjects such as Jewish customs, festivals and Israeli culture. In addition, they have sports, drama, music, day camps, trips and more.
Activities are geared towards the different stages of absorption and assisting olim in becoming familiar with their new surroundings. The local community and youth center offers a wide variety of activities and sports at nominal fees for new immigrants.
Special Projects for Adults:
Home Center Project- - Workshops on maintaining a home in Israel are offered by the center staff. They guide new immigrants on solving technical problems in the household and give advice on general upkeep.
Community Gardening Project - Each family is provided with a plot of land where they can plant, grow and nurture crops of their choice, which they can then use.
Seniors Club –Several activities are offered for seniors. These include gymnastics classes which are held in cooperation with the Clalit Health Fund, as well as an embroidery workshop for those who are interested.
Jerome Williams, Anthony Bonner and Allan Houston (all ex NY Knicks) with children from the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center, September 2010
Special projects for Children:
Compedia Project – The Compedia company has developed a computer program which offers educational reinforcement and computer classes for preschoolers. This program strengthens their learning prior to entering the school system..
Story Time - Once a week, officers from the nearby police station hold a story club for the center’s children.
Oridion – A group of youth aged 13-15 visits the office of Oridion, a high tech company in Jerusalem, on a weekly basis where they learn about computers and are exposed to a variety of different activities.
Art Club at The Israel Museum - Once a week, groups of youth, aged 12-15 participate in the youth wing art workshops at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. As participants of the workshops, they are welcomed and encouraged to visit the museum’s various exhibitions.
The Mevasseret Zion absorption center serves as a visiting center for groups and delegations from around the world, who want to learn first hand about the newly arrived immigrants from Ethiopia.
A professional and dedicated staff is responsible for the care of the new immigrants and for the daily running of the absorption center. The staff consists
of 37 workers and includes a director , assistant director, social workers, housemothers, educational staff, social and cultural coordinators, administrative assistants, and a support team of counselors, tutors, mentors, teacher/soldiers and National Service Volunteers.