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Pnina’s story


The only memory Pnina Tamano has of leaving Ethiopia and coming to Israel at the age of three is of the huge airplane that brought her family to their homeland after 3,000 years of isolation from other Jews. Pnina arrived with her father and four siblings. The Jewish Agency for Israel was instrumental in finding her mother and two other sisters, who were left behind in Ethiopia, and brought them to Israel to be reunited with the rest of the family. As the granddaughter of a Kes (Ethiopian religious leader), Pnina’s family is well known and respected in the community. “Education is extremely important to my family,” says Pnina. “Except for the youngest in the family, we are all learning in higher education programs.”

Determined to get a higher education, Pnina was accepted to law school at the Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono, which was established with support from the Jewish Agency, and she received a Jewish Agency-supported Student Authority Scholarship. While in college, Pnina worked hard to make ends meet. “It was very difficult to go to school and support myself, but I was determined to complete my undergraduate studies and advance.”

Commitment and employment went hand in hand for Pnina: she was the deputy chairman of the Ethiopian Student Association of Israel; used her knowledge gained in law school to volunteer for Tebeka, an advocacy center that helps Ethiopian immigrants with legal problems, and volunteered with the Jewish Agency’s “Sparks of Science” program at the Weizmann Institute of Science. This innovative educational program motivates and encourages young Ethiopian high school students to excel in the sciences.

Today, Pnina is specializing in corporate law and interning at a law firm in Ramat Gan. She is an amazing example of how the next generation of Ethiopians, given equal educational opportunities, can succeed in Israel and give back to their communities. She is a role model for other young Ethiopians.

And there are thousands more just like Pnina. From generation to generation, through the Federation, people who give have been there to help our Jewish community whenever they have needed it.

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