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Center for the Study of Multiculturalism and Diversity

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 9190501

tel. 972.2.5494950

Meet Our Fellows 2016-17

Lilach Zagai Nim

Faculty of Humanities.

Research Topic

Life Experiences of Young People of Ethiopian Descent – university educated and those without academic background – and their Integration in Israeli Society.

Research Summary

The Ethiopian community is a minority group in the Israeli Jewish society, coping with unique absorption difficulties stemming from cultural differences and racial perceptions. Various studies show that despite the attempt of many young people from this community to integrate into Israeli society, many of them encounter obstacles in the process. These obstacles can be found in multiple areas: school, employment, military service and academic education. The difficulty is most noticeable among young university graduates of Ethiopian descent, when they come to take part in the job market. This is the case despite the commonplace assumption that, according to the principle of meritocracy, higher education is a significant means for social mobility and the eradication of racist perceptions. This study aims at a profound understanding of the experiences of university graduates of Ethiopian descent, in comparison with youth of Ethiopian descent who are not college educated, from the geographic and social periphery, who are experiencing difficulties in social integration. The goal of the study is to comprehend how educated and less educated young people from this group feel and see their place in society, their chances of integration, their strength and the threats they are facing. The study also aims at better understanding how to design an educational policy that will help members of this group achieve a better integration in society. In addition, it wishes to make the voices of the young members of the community heard, and help them find strategies for coping with processes of exclusion.