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An IDF Soldier and the Boy he Helped Make Aliyah from Ethiopia Reunite at WIZO Nachalat Yehuda Youth Village

A WIZO Nachalat Yehuda student of Ethiopian descent, who immigrated to Israel as part of Operation Solomon, meets an IDF general who took part in the historic mission.

April 07, 2016

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"Path to Values" is a values-based educational initiative designed to increase preparedness for meaningful military service among Israeli youth. The initiative is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education, the IDF and the Defense Ministry.

In the framework of the program, IDF commanders and officers meet with thousands of youth in the 11th and 12th grades studying at youth villages and boarding schools across the country, and facilitate an informal dialogue on the subjects of altruism, the importance of military service, national pride and shared values.

At the WIZO Nachalat Yehuda Youth Village, which participates in the program, officers and commanders from the elite units of the Israel Air Force met recently with students. The gathering included an impressive exhibit of military tools and a joint musical performance by the IAF troupe and youth village vocal group.

This year is the 25th anniversary of Operation Solomon, the 36-hour covert military mission which brought thousands of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. To mark the event, a special meeting was organized between Colonel Boaz Hershkowitz, commander of special air forces, who, as a young officer, had a role in the historic operation, and Adiso Hobigen, who made aliyah to Israel in Operation Solomon at age 13 and now works as a counselor at WIZO Nachalat Yehuda.

Col. Hershkowitz recounted the efforts that the State of Israel and the IDF made to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel; Adiso spoke about the experience from his viewpoint as a young Ethiopian boy who had tried, unsuccessfully, to reach Israel by foot, through the deserts of Sudan, before reaching the country together with his family thanks to Operation Solomon. "I remember the soldiers that came to Addis Ababa and escorted us to the plane, helped children and elderly people, distributed water and gave us a feeling of safety before the trip to Israel that we had so longed for," recounted Hobigen. "It's exciting to meet this soldier who was a part of my coming to Israel."

Pnina Gefen, Director of WIZO Nachalat Yehuda said that there wasn't a dry eye in the room when Adiso, the youth village counselor, told students about the difficulties of the journey to Israel. "This is a story of closure and fulfillment. Adiso, who is now a young man, is standing beside Col. Hershkowitz. Together they represent the brave story of the State of Israel. The chance to present this story, the stuff of national myth, to our students, connects them to the history of Israel."