Advocacy for Equality and Justice for Ethiopian-Israelis
Rarely has a community undergone so dramatic and complete a transformation as Ethiopian-Jews following their arrival in Israel. Virtually overnight, an ancient community rich in customs and traditions millennia-old transitioned from a rural lifestyle without access to electricity, running water and formal education, to the knowledge-based economy and technology-driven culture of Israel. Along with new freedoms and opportunities came tremendous challenges in navigating the complexities of Israel’s legal system, educational system, socio-economic structure, family structure, government bureaucracy and more. Fundamental to overcoming these challenges has been the education of Ethiopian immigrants about their rights and corresponding obligations as Israeli citizens and members of a democracy, as well as to guard against legal injustices and prejudicial practices.
Tebeka (Amharic for “Advocate of Justice”), is the legal aid organization serving Israel’s 140,000 member Ethiopian community. The organization was founded in 2000 by the first Ethiopian Israeli attorneys and professionals in order to safeguard the rights of Ethiopian immigrants, to ensure that community members in need have access to quality legal services that are comprehensive and free, to advance the community’s successful integration into Israeli society, and to cultivate Israel’s next generation of leaders and legal scholars from within the Ethiopian community.
Through this work, Tebeka not only aims to build a more promising future for Ethiopian Israelis, but also to advance the cause of justice and equality for the sake of all Israeli citizens.