Save All Ethiopian Jews records, 1979-2007  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Save All Ethiopian Jews (Organization)
Title
Save All Ethiopian Jews records
Dates
1979-2007 (inclusive)
Quantity
5.00 cubic feet (7 boxes and 6 oversize vertical files)
Collection Number
4532 (Accession No. 4532-001)
Summary
Correspondence, financial records, client files, contracts, membership records, legal documents, and other records of Save All Ethiopian Jews, a human rights organization in Western Washington that worked covertly to expedite the immigration of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Access to portions of the collection is restricted. Contact University of Washington Libraries Special Collections for details.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Save All Ethiopian Jews (SAEJ) was established in Mercer Island, Washington, in 1983 to assist in the immigration and resettlement of Jews from Ethiopia to Israel. The organization was the brainchild of Sidney Weiner, a former Boeing engineer, and his nephew-in-law Eli Halpern, an attorney in Olympia, Washington. Eli Halpern's brother, Bill Halpern, had died in Kenya under mysterious circumstances in 1982 while working to help Ethiopian Jews. Sidney Weiner and Eli Halpern decided to memorialize Bill Halpern's efforts by forming a local organization dedicated to the rescue and resettlement of Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and several other Jewish service organizations, SAEJ was run completely by volunteers. Along with Sidney Weiner, his wife Margaret, and Eli Halpern, the founding members of SAEJ included Sol Goldberg and Samantha Ripley, who were working independently to raise awareness of and funding for Ethiopian Jews in local Jewish congregations.

At the time that SAEJ was founded, there were an estimated 30,000 Jews in Ethiopia, most of them living in the rural province of Gondar. Scorned as "falashas" (a pejorative term that means "strangers" in Amharic), Ethiopian Jews faced discrimination, poverty, religious oppression, and starvation. These conditions were exacerbated by widespread famine in Ethiopia throughout the 1980s, the repressive policies of the Mengistu regime, and the ongoing war with Eritrea. To escape such conditions, many Ethiopian Jews traveled by foot to refugee camps on the Sudanese border. In late 1985, the Israeli government, which had no official diplomatic relations with Ethiopia at the time, airlifted 9,500 Ethiopian Jews from Sudan in a rescue dubbed Operation Moses. The rescue was suspended after news of the secret evacuation effort broke in the international media, and Israel did not actively pursue further large-scale evacuations of Ethiopian Jews until the Operation Solomon airlift of 1991.

Along with several other North American organizations, such as the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ), the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ), and the Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews (CAEJ), SAEJ worked to fill the void left by Israel's official non-participation in repatriating Ethiopian Jews. The group first attempted to secure passports for Ethiopian Jews by "adopting" Jewish children in Ethiopia. When this strategy became unfeasible, Halpern and Weiner devised a covert program in which Ethiopian adults received "work contracts" from Washington employers, and children and teenagers received "scholarships" to Washington grade schools and colleges. Most of the schools were fictitious, and the supposed employers participating in the "contract" arrangements had only the vaguest notion of their role in assisting SAEJ's efforts. The falsified documents enabled Ethiopians to receive passports and leave the country. Once they reached the United States, they were immediately flown to Israel and entered absorption centers before resettling in their new country. Until late 1988, most of the documents were prepared by Eli Halpern and the employees of his law firm in Olympia. From 1985 to 1990, SAEJ worked in quiet cooperation with Israeli officials through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), which reimbursed SAEJ members for travel and operating expenses.

SAEJ's model for rescuing Ethiopian Jews proved so successful that it was later adopted by the other North American organizations working on behalf of Ethiopian Jews. In 1989, SAEJ moved into an office in the Jewish Federation building in downtown Seattle, where its members continued to prepare, process, and track immigration documents not only for SAEJ but also for AAEJ, NACOEJ, and CAEJ for the next two and a half years. Because of the covert nature of their programs, SAEJ did not publicize its efforts, nor did it actively solicit donations outside local Jewish congregations.

In May 1991, the Israeli government airlifted approximately 14,325 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel in Operation Solomon, bringing the vast majority of the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel. After this monumental event, SAEJ members felt that their assistance with immigration efforts was no longer necessary and officially dissolved the organization on March 23,1992. The remaining SAEJ funds were used to establish the SAEJ/Bill Halpern Ethiopian Scholarship Endowment Fund, which awards college grants to Ethiopian youths now resettled in Israel. The fund is jointly managed at present by the Jewish Federation of Seattle and the Ethiopian Scholarship Fund Committee, which includes Sidney Weiner, Eli Halpern, and other original SAEJ members.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Save All Ethiopian Jews (SAEJ) records document the organization's activities on behalf of Ethiopian Jews before, during, and after their covert immigration to Israel. The materials offer insight into SAEJ's administrative structure and organizational history as well as the development and maintenance of the group's programs to assist Ethiopian Jews, particularly the "work contract" and "scholarship" programs.

The records include the organization's articles of incorporation and by-laws, financial records, fundraising materials, membership rosters, notes of individual SAEJ members, photographic prints and negatives of Ethiopian Jews, client files, and document preparation files. Minutes of SAEJ meetings and other administrative records are spotty and incomplete. In order to educate themselves about the history, culture, and socioeconomic status of Ethiopian Jews, SAEJ members collected a substantial body of clippings, pamphlets, reports, and other materials on Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia and Israel. There is also material, mainly correspondence, documenting SAEJ's collaborations and communications with other organizations dedicated to assisting Ethiopian Jews. Major correspondents include: Sidney Weiner, Eli Halpern, Zimna Berhani, Charles Kaplan, Margaret Weiner, HIAS, NACOEJ, AAEJ, CAEJ, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

Forms part of the Washington State Jewish Archives.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Literary rights have been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Preferred Citation

[Title of item], [date of item if known], [box/folder number], Save All Ethiopian Jews Records, Accession No. 4532-001, University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Series 1:  Administrative files, 1983-1992, 2005Return to Top

Arranged alphabetically.

The Administrative files document the management and administration of Save All Ethiopian Jews (SAEJ) from its establishment in 1983 to its dissolution in 1992. Materials include by-laws, articles of incorporation, fundraising files, minutes, member notes, financial records, and an extensive history of SAEJ.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Articles of incorporation and sponsorship letters
1983
1/2
Buttons
undated
1/3
By-laws
1983
1/4
Dissolution records
1992
Financial records
Box/Folder
1/5
Bills
1983-1984
1/6
Bills, paid
1985-1987
1/7-1/8
Internal Revenue Service and bank account files
1983-1985
VF:oversize
81a
Ledger
1985-1990
Box/Folder
1/9
Requests for reimbursement
1984-1986
1/10
Book Publishers Statements
1986-1988
1/11
Save All Ethiopian Jews/Jewish Federation Community Relations Council account
1989-1990
1/12-1/13
Statements
1984-1985
Fund raising records
Box/Folder
1/14
Clothing drive
undated
General correspondence
Box/Folder
1/15
Appeals to and donations from Jewish congregations
1983-1987
1/16
Donations from individuals
1984-1989
1/17
Jewish Federation Endowment Fund grants
1984, 1990
Box/Folder
1/18
Donor list
1984
1/19
Donor list: "Falashas"
undated
1/20
Sample donation envelopes
circa 1984-1986
Box/Folder
1/21
History of Save All Ethiopian Jews by Sidney Weiner
circa 2005
1/22
Israel Independence Day celebration
1988
Membership records
Box/Folder
1/23
Board and other committee members
1983
1/24
Key names and information
1989-1990
1/25
Mailing lists
undated
Box/Folder
1/26
Minutes
1983, 1990
1/27
Miscellaneous papers
1984, 1990, undated
Notes
Box/Folder
1/28
Sol Goldberg
1984, undated
1/29
Sam Ripley
circa 1983-1984

Program files, 1979-2001Return to Top

Arranged alphabetically.

Program files document the two major programs of Save All Ethiopian Jews (SAEJ): its immigration assistance efforts and the SAEJ/Bill Halpern Ethiopian Scholarship Fund. The Immigration files detail the "adoption" strategy SAEJ first employed in 1984 and 1985 and the "scholarship" and "employment contract" strategies they later used to secure passports for Ethiopian Jews from 1985 to 1990. Materials include correspondence, individual client files, client rosters, notes, and document preparation files. The Immigration files contain the bulk of SAEJ's correspondence, which includes documentation of the organization's relationships with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and other North American agencies involved in rescuing Ethiopian Jews.

Container(s) Description Dates
Immigration files
Adoption
Box/Folder
1/30
Frank and Schleder trip to Ethiopia
1984
1/31
Halpern and Weiner trip to Ethiopia
1983-1984
1/32
Lachman, Mann and Kuper trip to Ethiopia
1984
1/33
General correspondence
1983-1985
General correspondence
Box/Folder
1/34-1/35
American Association for Ethiopian Jews
1983-1990
1/36
American Jewish Committee
1987
1/37
American Jewish Congress
1988
1/38
Mordechai Ben-Porat
1984-1987
1/39
Zimna Berhani
1985, 1988
1/40
Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews
1988-1990
1/41
Consul General of Israel, Pacific Northwest Region
1989-1990
1/42-1/43
Ethiopian individuals
1983-1990
1/44-1/59, 2/1-2/2
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
1983-1989
2/3
Jewish Agency Israel
1984-1990
2/4-2/5
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
1983-1989
2/6
Jerry Maliner
1984
2/7
George P. Mann
1985
2/8
Bent Melchior
1984-1985
2/9-2/11
Miscellaneous
1979-1990
2/12-2/13
North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
1983-1985
2/14-2/15
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council
1983-1991
2/16
Regarding medical assistance for Birhanu Yiradu
1984
2/17
Religious Action Center (Washington, D.C.)
1984-1985
2/18
Armand and Michelle Szwarcburt
1984-1986
2/19
U.S. State Department, Coordinator for Refugee Affairs
1983-1986
Box/Folder
2/20
International summit minutes and notes
1989
Scholarships and employment contracts
Client rosters
Box/Folder
2/21-2/23
Lists of American Association for Ethiopian Jews, Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews, and North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
1989-1990
VF:oversize
81b
Lists of American Association for Ethiopian Jews, Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews and North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
1989-1990
81d
Names of Save All Ethiopian Jews
Includes a photograph of a client of Save All Ethiopian Jews.
1988-1989
Box/Folder
2/24
Status reports
1986, 1988
2/25
Unofficial rescues by all groups
1987-1989
Document preparation files
Box/Folder
2/26-2/27
Addresses and zips for affidavits of support
1982-1989
2/28
Form letters -- schools
1988-1989
2/29
Form letters -- work contracts
1988-1989
2/30
Form letters to [Anne?] and Eli Halpern
circa 1989
2/31
Forms, letters, and embassy paperwork
1988-1990, undated
2/32
Instructions for work contract authorization by state
circa 1988
2/33
Instructions for work contracts and scholarships
circa 1988
2/34-2/97
Letterhead
Files are organized alphabetically by name of school or business. School files precede business files.
These files contain school and business letterhead and sample letters used by Save All Ethiopian Jews to obtain passports for Ethiopian Jews.
undated
Box/Folder
2/98
Charles Kaplan papers
Includes Kaplan's personal notes on preparing employment contract and scholarship documents, meeting minutes, correspondence, and other documents.
1989-1990
2/99
Miscellaneous notes
undated
2/100-2/102
Sidney Weiner notes
circa 1983-1988, undated
2/103
"Phone Log of All Contacts"
The Save All Ethiopian Jews (SAEJ) phone log is a series of notebooks containing detailed, handwritten notes on SAEJ's telephone conversations with officials at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, and other organizations and individuals working on the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The log is almost entirely written by Sidney Weiner.
1983-1990
3/1
Processing reports
1987-1988
3/2
Employment contract status reports
1987-1988
3/3
General Correspondence (SAEJ/ Halpern & Smith, P.S.)
1985-1988
3/4-3/8
Correspondence (Haim Halachmi c/o Karl D. Zukerman)
1985-1989
4/1
Correspondence (Margaret & Sid Weiner)
1997-2005
4/2-4/3
From binder entitled "SAEJ VII"
1999-2004
4/4-4/5
From binder entitled "SAEJ VIII"
2004-2007
4/6
From binder entitled "SAEJ IV"
1991-2014
Box
5
Individual client files
Individual client files contain copies of paperwork on Ethiopians rescued by Save All Ethiopian Jews, the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, and the Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews. Each file contains letters to the Ethiopian embassy and the individual client from a school or employer, completed work contracts or scholarship forms, affidavits of support, invitations from the U.S. State Department, and dated documentation of the entire process. The organization responsible for each client is noted on the folder.
These materials have been minimally processed.
RESTRICTED. Researchers must complete Access Agreement for Use.
1989-1990
VF141
Individual client file for Assefaw Bicha
RESTRICTED. Researchers must complete Access Agreement for Use.
1987-1990
VF142-VF143
Case lists and status notes (G-1 to G-398, G-399 to G-425)
RESTRICTED. Researchers must complete Access Agreement for Use.
1984-1989
Box/Folder
6/1
Scholarship applicants/recipients
1993-2009
6/2
Travel arrangements to Ethiopia
1984-1988
6/3-6/5
Scholarship and employment, ticket refunds
1985-1988
Save All Ethiopian Jews/Bill Halpern Scholarship Fund
Box/Folder
6/6-6/11
General correspondence
Correspondents include the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Micha Feldman, and Zimna and Sioux Berhani.
1991-2001
6/12
Notes of Margaret Weiner
1991

Background information files, 1982-1996Return to Top

Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Background information files contain documents collected by Save All Ethiopian Jews members on various topics relating to Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia and Israel. Materials include reports, pamphlets, newspaper and magazine clippings, notes, and the newsletters and mailings of other organizations focused on the plight of Ethiopian Jewry.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/13-6/16, 7/1-7/5
Clippings
1982-1996
Mailings, newsletters, and other material
Box/Folder
7/6-7/8
American Association for Ethiopian Jews
1983-1992
7/9
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
undated
7/10
North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
1984-1990
Box/Folder
7/11
Notes for slide show
undated
Reports
Box/Folder
7/12
"Ethiopian Jewry Aid Proposals"
1984
7/13-7/14
Ethiopian Jewry -- general
circa 1982-1989
7/15
Political and socioeconomic conditions in Ethiopia
1985-1990
7/16-7/17
Resettlement and absorption of Ethiopian Jews in Israel
circa 1984-1991

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Jews, Ethiopian--Israel
  • Jews, Ethiopian--Photographs
  • Jews, Ethiopian--Scholarships, fellowships, etc.--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Jews--Ethiopia--Civil rights
  • Jews--Ethiopia--Migrations
  • Jews--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • Jews--Washington (State)--Seattle--Societies, etc
  • Scholarships--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Personal Names :
  • Berhani, Zimna
  • Goldberg, Sol
  • Halpern, Eli
  • Kaplan, Charles, 1913-
  • Weiner, Margaret (Frances Margaret), 1923-
  • Weiner, Sidney (Sidney Nathan), 1920-
  • Corporate Names :
  • American Association for Ethiopian Jews
  • Canadian Association for Ethiopian Jews
  • HIAS (Agency)
  • Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
  • National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (U.S.)
  • North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry
  • Save All Ethiopian Jews (Organization)--Archives
  • Geographical Names :
  • Ethiopia--Emigration and immigration
  • Ethiopia--Ethnic relations
  • Israel--Emigration and immigration
  • Israel--Ethnic relations
  • Washington (State)--Ethnic relations
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • administrative records
  • By-laws
  • Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
  • Contracts
  • correspondence
  • financial records
  • legal files
  • logs (records)
  • Newsletters
  • notes
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • reports
  • rosters
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Washington State Jewish Archives (University of Washington) (creator)
    • Washington State Jewish Archives (University of Washington)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Washington State Jewish Archives (University of Washington)