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UJIA has launched its "debut" Ethiopian Bar/Bat Mitzvah Seminar for the British teenagers taking part in its inspirational twinning programme.
Eighteen British children from London, Glasgow and Manchester came together in London for one weekend (7-9 May 2010) in order to learn more about the history of their Ethiopian twins as well as the social responsibility they face as they become Bnei Mitzvah.
Programmes which focussed on issues such as human rights and free trade were run by Ben Freeman, Scotland's UJIA Community Youth Worker, Marc Livingston, FZY Northern Field Worker, and Eran Dotan, FZY's Director of Essex Activities.
On Sunday parents and friends of UJIA came to the London Jewish Cultural Centre to watch the inspirational and award-winning film, "Live and Become", which tells the story of a young Ethiopian boy's journey from Ethiopia to Israel whilst searching for his true identity.
Anthea Masson, UJIA Scotland Programmes Director, said:
"The weekend was an incredible success and we are so glad that we could bring all the children together to teach them the Jewish values of Tikun Olam, repairing the world. The children should now have a clearer understanding of what it was like for their Ethiopian counterparts to leave their homes to settle in Israel and has taught them important values like diversity and tolerance and more importantly their connection to Israel."
Using the same model as the Glasgow Bar/Bat Mitzvah club which has now been running since 2006 it is hoped that by next autumn the same clubs will be run in Manchester, London, Leeds and Birmingham and that the Shabbaton will become an annual event.
This summer, 22 families from the UK will be coming out to Israel to take part in UJIA's Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations in Jerusalem. This is a record year and promises to be a truly wonderful experience for everyone involved. "Building links of this kind between Israel and UK is at the heart of UJIA's work in enriching Jewish life and creating a living bridge between Britain and Israel," said Masson.