TheJ.ca header - Goodman Foundation of Montreal launches scholarships for Ethiopian-Israeli students - Graduate program support will be split between two universities

Rosalind and Morris Goodman endowed their Family Foundation to support medical, educational and communal projects.

Rosalind and Morris Goodman endowed their Family Foundation to support medical, educational and communal projects.

The Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation (MRGFF) is partnering with Israel’s top two universities – Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University – to assist financially needy Ethiopian Israeli graduate students who are engaged in social, community or academic leadership activities for the benefit of the Ethiopian community and others.

“The intention of this grant is to help on multiple levels,” says Maxyne Finkelstein, President of MRGFF. “It is to assist students with financial needs and also to raise awareness of the importance of graduate studies for this population in the context of creating greater social and economic benefit through advanced education.”

Thirty-five years after major waves of immigrants fled civil war to come to the Jewish state, Israel is now home to more than 150,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent. Because of social, cultural, language and economic challenges, about half of Ethiopian Israelis live under the poverty line. The scholarships, focused on education, is in support of Ethiopian Israeli young adults on their path toward a career in academia and across society at large

“The Morris and Rosalind Goodman Scholarships will help Hebrew University to provide increased opportunities for Israelis of Ethiopian origin to pursue graduate degrees and to take up positions of leadership,” said Michal Barak, Director of HU’s Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity. “We are committed, through academia, to advancing the wellbeing and transformation of communities.”

“We see diversity in academia as a key element in building a strong Israeli society, and this is why Tel Aviv University seeks to increase the number of Ethiopian students across all degrees and professions,” said Limor Shem-Tov, Head of the Unit for Student Advancement at TAU. “The Morris and Rosalind Goodman Scholarships will provide motivated students from the Ethiopian community the opportunity to realize the dream of a higher education, become agents of change and gain social influence. We are honoured to be partners with the Foundation in this important initiative.”

A press release stated, “Through their generous support of this initiative, the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Family Foundation is sending a strong message to Israel and world Jewry: That the Ethiopian Jewish community is a vital, inseparable part of Israel that should enjoy a status equal to that of other communities, both within and outside of the universities.”

A TUA student was enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“My parents came to Israel from Ethiopia in 1983. They walked through Sudan in order to fulfil the dream of Zion, to create a better future for our family in the Holy Land – Israel.” says Sarit, who is majoring in Engineering. “As a young girl, my mother loved studying but unfortunately, here in Israel, she had to work to support my brothers and me. A part of me wants to accomplish this dream for her, so that she can see me completing my degree with excellence, entering the engineering sphere and later continuing to advanced degrees.”

Most of the time, students like Sarit represent the first generation in their families to pursue higher education. Facing economic shortfalls, financial assistance like scholarships is a key to their success, especially at the graduate level. These kinds of scholarships encourage them to advance towards Master’s and Doctoral studies, and can lead to research opportunities both in Israel and the Diaspora, and teaching and tenure track positions.

The press release concluded, “It is the family’s fervent wish that these scholarships will have a snowball effect and attract others to support such initiatives aimed at positively influencing the status and perception of Ethiopian Jews in Israel and beyond. Combating negative biases toward the community is an overarching goal, in which education can play a critical role. In the future, the Foundation also hopes to support additional programs at both universities to raise awareness of the rich culture and history of Ethiopian Jewry.”

The Goodman family hopes the scholarships will spur more interest from other philanthropists to improve opportunities for Ethiopian Jewry.

The Morris and Rosalind Goodman Family Foundation