Beyond Gap Year Program In Ethiopia Assists Ethiopian Jewish Community

Israel gap year program BBYO Beyond will take part in remaining Ethiopian Jewish immigrants' transition from Ethiopia to Israel.

BBYO Beyond, a gap year program based in Israel, for post high school Jewish teenagers, is honored to be taking part in a project organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel.

For two months, Beyond participants will be able to contribute both to the remaining Ethiopian Jewish Community as well as assist in the development of Gondar, an ancient city that is located north of Tana Lake. Though it was once known as a royal city, most of Gondar, like all of Ethiopia is impoverished. Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of approximately 84 million, but also the sixth-poorest country in the world. In 2010 the per-capita income was only $390, compared to $1,165 for the Sub-Saharan African average.

Gondar is sister cities with Montgomery County Maryland, Corvallis, Oregon and Rishon LeZion, Israel. Ike Leggett, Montgomery County (MD) Executive recently returned from a visit to the sister city, and is supportive of Beyond's initiative. "What a fabulously rewarding experience it would be to provide eight weeks of community service in Gondar, Ethiopia! Gondar is a community rich in history and culture, full of welcoming and engaging people. The personal experiences and leadership development lessons will provide memories that will last a lifetime."

In October 2012, the Jewish Agency announced that the remaining 1,800 Falash Mura will be brought to Israel by the upcoming Jewish New Year, which will begin on September 4, 2013. Last month, 238 new immigrants from Ethiopia were brought to Israel through this program. The participants on BBYO Beyond will spend part of the two months helping these remaining Ethiopian Jews acclimate to life in Israel, and the remainder of the time will be spent in Gondar working on various projects.

Currently, the projects that are in need of assistance include working at The Jewish Agency camp for future olim, the Mother Teresa Care Clinic, the "Hope for Tomorrow" organization for homeless children, the "plastic" camp that houses the extremely poor, and at a farm that develops agricultural sustainability for the region.

"An important Jewish value that we are trying to impart to our BBYO Beyond participants, is the idea of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. By going to Ethiopia, we are not only helping out our own Jewish brothers, but we are repairing part of the world at large. Imagine if we all put our energy into helping fix the world, the world would be a much better place," said Rina Rebibo, Program Manager for Beyond. More information about BBYO Beyond, can be found at