Tag Archives: Ethiopia

Jew of the Week: Seteng Ayele

Ayele Seteng

Ayele Seteng

Haile Satayin, a.k.a Ayele Seteng (b. 1955) was born in Ethiopia. He immigrated to Israel in 1991 as part of ‘Operation Solomon’, when 35 Israeli Air Force and El Al aircraft amazingly transported over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in just 36 hours. The secret operation was launched in response to the collapsing Ethiopian government, and subsequent rumours of war and attacks on Ethiopia’s Jews, known as Beta Israel. In Israel, Seteng pursued his dreams and became a professional long-distance runner. He soon won a number of Israeli national championships, then moved on to international competitions, and competed all over the world. In 2004, he represented Israel at the Athens Olympics, and at nearly fifty years of age, was the oldest track athlete there. Four years later, he qualified again for the Beijing Olympics, making him the oldest runner once more. He nearly made it to the London Olympics in 2012, too, despite being 57 years old. Of this he has said: “My age is old, but my heart is young.” His Tel-Aviv half-marathon (21 km) time of 1:03:43 and Venice Marathon (42 km) time of 2:14:21 are still Israeli records. The father of seven children, he has won 31 national titles, and holds the record for being the oldest person ever to compete in a IAAF World Championship. In 2011, an Israeli documentary, Seret Ratz (“Running Movie”) was made about him.

Passover Begins Tomorrow Evening!

Words of the Week

Pharaoh commanded his people: “Every son that is born shall be cast into the River” (Exodus 1:22). The Nile was the mainstay of the Egyptian economy and its most venerated god. Therein lay the deeper—still relevant—significance of Pharaoh’s decree: Today, too, Jewish survival depends on our ability to resist the dictum that children must be submerged within an educational system whose focus and goal is the attainment of a “career” and “economic success…”
– Menachem Mendel Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jew of the Week: Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari

Saving Africa With Israeli Technology

Sivan Borowich-Ya'ari

Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari

Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari was born in Israel to an Algerian-Jewish father and Tunisian-Jewish mother. She was raised in France, but returned to Israel to serve in the army. After her service, Ya’ari moved to the United States to pursue higher education. While completing a Master’s at Columbia University, she went on an internship to Senegal with the United Nations Development Program, working to bring electrical generators to poor villages. Inspired by the terrible living conditions that she saw, Ya’ari took it upon herself to make a positive change in Africa. Soon after, she started her own project to bring solar-powered electricity to a Tanzanian village. In 2008, Ya’ari founded a non-profit organization, originally called Jewish Heart for Africa, and now Innovation: Africa. Its mission: making Africa a better place, and doing it with modern Israeli technology. Since then, her organization has helped bring light and electricity, food and water, education and medical care to over 450,000 people in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi. Over 250,000 children have been able to get vaccinated thanks to solar refrigerators provided by Innovation: Africa. Ya’ari works together with impoverished villages to bring them the basic infrastructure that they need. Her efforts have stimulated business opportunities, wider education, and better health. The organization maintains its promise to contribute 100% of donations for its causes, a part of which goes to develop novel Israeli technologies. Last fall, Ya’ari was honoured with the United Nation’s Innovation Award.

Words of the Week

You speak of all that you need, but you say nothing of what you are needed for.
– Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

Jew of the Week: Heather Reisman

Heather Reisman, CEO of Chapters and Indigo Books

Heather Reisman (b. 1948) was born in Montreal and studied at McGill University to become a social worker. Looking for a fresh start after getting divorced, Reisman moved to Toronto and switched careers, entering the world of business. In 1979 she co-founded a consulting company which she directed for seventeen years. That experience led her to become the president of Cott Beverages in 1992 (a private Canadian soft-drink company that makes RC Cola, among others). Several years later, Reisman noticed an opportunity to expand Canada’s book retail market. In 1996 she founded Indigo Books & Music, with help from her husband Gerry Schwartz, who is listed by Forbes among the richest Canadians. In 2001, Indigo acquired its top competitor Chapters (and its subsidiaries Coles and SmithBooks) to become Canada’s largest book retailer. Reisman is still the CEO of the socially-responsible company, praised for its green initiatives, progressive policies, and for being among Canada’s top 100 employers. Indigo also produced Kobo, Canada’s most popular eReader. Reisman herself is a noted philanthropist, donating generously to the University of Toronto and Harvard, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the UJA and a host of other institutions, many of which are pro-Israel, such as the Heseg Foundation which assists Israeli lone soldiers, as well as Israeli Ethiopian and Druze soldiers. Indigo also commits $1.5 million every year to schools across Canada through its Love of Reading Foundation. For all of her efforts, Reisman has been listed among the world’s 50 top businesswomen. She has been awarded several honorary degrees, and has even served as the governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and McGill University.


Words of the Week

When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and the other unfortunate paupers. But one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and feasts and drinks with his children and wife but does not feed the poor and the embittered – this is not the joy of mitzvah but the joy of his stomach.

– Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Festivals 6:18)