Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and their partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), have facilitated aliyah for more than 97,000 Jewish Ethiopians. The video and text below tell the story of a recent mission that brought more than 215 Ethiopian Jews to Israel to fullfill their aliyah dreams. Carolyn Gitlin, chair of JFNA’s National Women’s Philanthropy, and Dana Keller, chair of the board for Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, joined in this heartwarming effort.
Israel today is home to more than 160,000 Ethiopian Jews—with thousands more hoping to make aliyah from Ethiopia and start a new life in the Jewish homeland. In September 2022, delegates from Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Agency for Israel accompanied hundreds of olim, or immigrants, in their mission from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to their new home in Israel. For many, the trip was more than just the beginning of a new life—it also meant a long-awaited reunion with spouses, parents, brothers, and sisters. Among the many who joined this life-changing journey were Carolyn Gitlin, chair of JFNA’s National Women’s Philanthropy, and Dana Keller, chair of the board for Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford.
Addressing the assembled travelers, Carolyn Gitlin said, “We in Jewish Federations across the United States and Canada feel a deep connection and responsibility to Jews wherever they live.” She added warmly, “You are our brothers and sisters.”
Dana Keller also noted the profound impact the experience had on those the delegates were there to serve—as well as herself. “It was the trip of a lifetime, and I was honored to fly with my fellow Jews from Ethiopia to make aliyah to Israel,” she said. “It’s because of the funds we raise in our community that this event happened. We help Jews all over the world no matter where they are; it’s who we are.”
Click here to watch Carolyn, Dana, other mission delegates, and olim celebrate their arrival to our Jewish homeland.