Israel’s First Lady Michal Herzog has honoured Ethiopian-born nursing student recipients of Hadassah-Achotenu scholarships, of which Hadassah Australia is a major sponsor, at an event she hosted at Beit HaNassi, the Israeli presidential home.
The Achotenu (“our sister”) program helps bring Israeli nursing numbers up to OECD standards which require an additional 1000 Israeli graduate nurses each year to the end of the 2020s.
By helping these Ethiopian-Israelis earn degrees at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing, the program creates highly trained nurses.
Hadassah Australia president Ron Finkel stated, “The remarkable support for the program by the Australian Jewish community is a wonderful expression of our ongoing desire to be part of the Zionist dream, to continue to build and make a real impact on Israeli society.
“We are building an Australian Achotenu community and connecting a new generation of Australians to Israel through this high-impact health program.”
Attendees at the Beit HaNassi event included Hadassah-Hebrew University officials, Achotenu nursing graduates and students, and representatives of the organisations supporting the program.
At last month’s reception, Herzog described Achotenu as “a wise, important project because it doesn’t ignore the difficulties of aliyah and absorption, but alongside them it looks at the enormous advantages and the amazing opportunities brought by Ethiopian immigration to all of Israel”.
To the new nurses the First Lady added, “You opted to study despite the dissenting voices you may have heard that suggested this course of action is not really for you. But you chose to study, realising that you are ambassadors for an entire community, knowing that your success is theirs too.”
Judy Lowy, director of La’Ofek, the Israeli organisation that initiated the Achotenu program, noted, “The five-year academic nursing program advances the students professionally, not just for themselves but also for their families, many of whom underwent arduous journeys in the search for a better, more secure life in Israel.
“The students are financially supported, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Hadassah Australia, Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organisation of America (HWZOA), the Hebrew University, the Israel Ministry of Health, foundations and private donors.”
Achotenu nursing graduates were thrilled to receive the recognition from Israel’s First Lady and to share their appreciation for the opportunities created by the program.
One graduate, Inbal, reflected, “My job was to study, and Achotenu would take care of everything else. The fact that I was studying not only impacted my family, but also my friends, all of whom now want to advance themselves as well.”