Fifteen children from New York, accompanied by their parents, met this week in Israel
with 20 Ethiopian children at the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center to build dreidels and eat sufganiot together.
The children from New York are in Israel with their families as part of UJA-Federation of New York’s
Winter Family Mission to Israel. The delegation is comprised of seven families, including children, parents and grandparents, totaling 28 participants altogether.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to meet Ethiopian Jewish children. I learned a lot from them and now I truly understand how important Israel is for the Jewish people,” said Allana Margulies, 11, from New York.
Amazing Hanukkah experience (Photo: Ilan Halperin)
The Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center, supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel, one of UJA-Federation’s largest recipients, is exclusively for Ethiopian immigrants who have recently arrived in Israel.
Here they learn Hebrew, adjust to their new lives and look for housing and jobs. The children go to school and the younger ones go to a kindergarten on the premises.
Branu, an 11-year-old Ethiopian child from the Absorption Center in Mevasseret Zion, was excited to celebrate Hanukkah
with children from New York. “It was lots of fun making dreidels with the kids from America,” he said.
The Winter Family Mission is a touring mission with the intent to see the major sites of Israel and build community and Jewish identity through the lens of UJA-Federation.
“The children had an amazing Hanukkah experience that they will never forget. Their eyes sparkled like the glitter they put on the dreidels,” said Ilan Halperin, planning director at UJA-Federation of New York’s Israel office, who took part in the event.