Setting Strong Roots

Shifting the Absorption Paradigm

Immigration isn’t easy. Not only do immigrants need to learn a new language, they also need to adjust to a new social, cultural, and economic order.

For Ethiopian olim this situation is particularly difficult because life in Israel looks very little like life in Ethiopia. Villages are replaced by cities. Children assume leadership roles in the family hierarchy (as a result of language difficulties). And industry takes the place of agriculture.

Under these conditions it’s not surprising that Ethiopian olim have a hard time setting strong roots in Israel.. At Earth’s Promise/Shvuat ha-Adamah we believe that this transition can be made easier by creating community gardens, because they respond directly to the needs of the immigrants.

By introducing elements of agriculture to the urban environment a continuous link is formed between their rural past and urban future. In addition, the garden space helps restore the family hierarchy by giving respect and honor to the traditional wisdom of the elders. The produce grown in the gardens also helps add flexibility to a family’s budget, by minimizing what they need to buy from retailers.

Together with our friends from the Kalisher Absorption Center, Earth’s Promise used this model to reclaim a neglected plot of open space in one of Be’er Sheva’s older, neglected neighborhoods. We believe this initiative not only addresses issues of absorption, but also strengthens the environment, the community, and ultimately the city.