High Tech-High Achievement for Ethiopian Israelis

from Christian Science Monitor:

Asher Elias uses high-tech training to lift Ethiopian Jews in Israel

The poster in Tech-Career’s simple office shows a young black man and woman, each with dreadlocks, leaning on each other as they work away on laptop computers.

“Narrow the digital gaps,” it proclaims.

In an adjoining classroom, 20 Ethiopian-Israelis, who are listening intently to their instructor in a course titled “Introduction to Systems Activ­a­tion for Windows 7,” are doing exactly that.

The course is part of Tech-Career, an intensive program of study designed to equip Ethiopian-Israelis – who constitute the poorest segment of the Jewish population – with the tools to join Israel’s dynamic and high-paying high-tech industry. The program also aims to develop young leaders who will help lift the Ethiopian-Israeli community out of poverty, stagnation, and marginalization.

Asher Elias, whose parents were among the first Ethiopian Jews to immigrate to Israel in the 1960s, launched Tech-Career seven years ago, continuing his social activism, which began with his membership in an advocacy group called the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jewry (IAEJ).

In 2004, only four Ethiopian-Israelis worked in the high-tech sector here, all of them trained in Ethiopia. Now there are more than 200, the vast majority of them Tech-Career graduates. They work at leading companies such as Amdocs, Matrix, and the Israel Discount Bank.