ROCK ISLAND -- As immigration reform talks continue in the U.S., Israeli programs that help Ethiopian refugees got some Quad-Cities help.|
Money raised by last year's Quad City Association of Evangelicals event, A Night to Honor Israel, was used to create a computer lab at an Ibim Absorption Center near Sderot, Israel.
The lab will be used by 600 new Ethiopian immigrants who are learning to adapt from a third world country to a first world one, according to Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities executive director Allan Ross.
The Quad-Cities association has raised more than $420,000 in nine years to support immigration efforts in Israel, he said. The computer lab donation was $35,000, Mr. Ross said.
The new computer lab will be dedicated on Wednesday, May 22.Jewish Federation board member Maxine Brand will attend as a representative of the Quad-Cities Jewish community.
It's a visit mixing business with pleasure, she said.
Ms. Brand, 64, of Davenport, also will attend her son-in-law's graduation ceremony at Ben Gurion University Medical School. She will be accompanied by her daughter, Ali Stern, a Jewish Agency worker in New York City, who's been working to support the immigration center in Israel.
Ms. Brand's sister, Harriet Goitein, has lived in Israel for 45 years.
Participating in the computer lab dedication also will give Ms. Brand a chance to honor the memory of her late husband, Mark Brand, a St. Ambrose University professor who died of cancer in 2011. She said "his love and devotion for Israel" intensified in the the last few years of his life.
"This dedication helps keep his memory alive, and I know he would have been so proud of how hard his daughter has worked on this, too," Ms. Brand said.
She will present plaques during the computer lab dedication that say, "This computer room was renovated and fully equipped with a generous gift fromthe Quad Cities Association of Evangelicalsin cooperation with the Jewish Federation of the Quad Citiesto provide critical education and a gateway to successful integration in Israeli societyfor the new immigrants at the Ibim Absorption Center, through the Israel Education Fund of the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America."
Mr. Ross thanked the evangelical association and the Night to Honor Israel committee's "steadfast support for the well-being of the the Jewish State of Israel.
"Your commitment to directly help the 600 brand new Ethiopian immigrants integrate into Israeli society through the renovation of the computer lab will benefit each new immigrant, as well as Israeli society, for generations to come," he said.
The computer lab is part of a larger effort to culturalize immigrants, Ms. Brand said, adding that immigrants spend up to 30 months at the absorption center to be "heartily integrated into life in Israel."
She said it's a heart-warming story that, "while we are talking a lot about immigration in America, a country as small as Israel embraces and helps all who want to return."
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