Thanks to a much-lauded advancement program complementing their Jewish studies, Nishmat's 45 Ethiopian Israeli students are on their way to the professional mainstream of Israeli society—as educators, lawyers, social workers, research biologists, and more. A major program feature is Nishmat's Judith Weiss Counseling Program.
Michal Lison, one of Nishmat’s two social workers who sees Nishmat Ethiopian-Israeli students through four years of college, spoke with Nishmat News about the attitude shift of parents: "In the past, Ethiopian immigrant parents wanted their daughters at home to supplement the family income. Now the parents have been here long enough to see that with higher education, the girls will have a chance at success in Israel. They even realize our students are setting a good example for their younger siblings. They're beginning to push their children to get an education.
"I reinforce the girls’ dual identities, helping them sort out what it means to be both an Ethiopian and an Israeli. I also teach time-management, a very new skill for Ethiopians. in Ethiopia, the parents didn’t have clocks. They worked when the sun was up and they stopped when it was dark. But the girls need to learn punctuality to succeed in life here.
"The parents also didn’t grow up with our concepts of love, choice, dating, and romance. Many married young as age 12 . I talk to the girls about dating and compatibility. I teach them about choice and encourage them to talk about traits and values in a life partner.
"Nishmat provides so much that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that makes us successful. I would say that we teach our how to live in a modern State, but more than that, we teach them about living in a Jewish State.”