Joel D. Tauber: Equality through Education

TAU's Tauber Initiative is embracing the academic potential of Ethiopian youth
27 November 2012
Joel D. Tauber

Studies show a growing disparity in opportunities between Israel's Ethiopian Jews and other groups. TAU is helping reduce this gap through the Tauber Initiative for the Advancement of Ethiopian Youth – an umbrella framework dedicated to identifying Ethiopian youth with academic potential, boosting their self-confidence, and increasing their accessibility to higher education.


The man who made this possible for some 330 youth from Israel's Ethiopian community is Joel D. Tauber of Detroit, Michigan, former Chairman of the American Friends of Tel Aviv University and a TAU honorary doctor. It all began in 1991 when, as Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, he was able to raise funds for bringing 14,000 Jews from Addis Ababa in one weekend – in what is now know as Operation Solomon.


Twenty years later, still strongly moved by the memory, Tauber recalled: "The Jews had to be evacuated immediately, because rebels were about to take over the city. At our request, the President of the United States himself asked the rebels to wait until Monday…and they did! The Jews were flown out in every aircraft Israel was able to muster, and by Monday all had landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. I got there just in time to greet the 200 new olim on the last crowded plane."


Deeply committed to Israel's Ethiopian population since that day, Tauber and his wife Shelley have been involved in several advancement attempts, partnering with TAU to create the unique Tauber Initiative: a wide ranging educational program – starting in seventh grade continuing all the way through college – designed to inspire the next generation of young Ethiopians to obtain a higher education. The project, first implemented in 2007, is coordinated by Rachel Warshavsky, Head of the Social Involvement Unit of TAU's Ruth and Allen Ziegler Student Services Division, in cooperation with its Student Welfare Unit and the Dov Lautman Unit for Science Oriented Youth at the Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education. Activity is continuously monitored by Tauber's own daughter, Julie McMahon, who, with a master's degree in education from Columbia University, specializes in programs for underprivileged youth.


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