Nathan Shapiro Recognized for Work with Ethiopian Jews
At a gathering in September 2017, Goldin Institute Board Member Nate Shapiro and his wife, Randy, were recognized for the vital role they played in rescuing Ethiopian Jewry by the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, Aviv Ezra, and staff of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Central Region. Nate served as President of the American Association for Ethiopian Jews (AAEJ) from 1983-1993 and under his leadership, the AAEJ provided relief, rescue and advocacy on behalf of the threatened Ethiopian Jewish community in Ethiopia and Sudan, leading to the successful immigration of the Ethiopian community to Israel through Operation Solomon in 1991.
“We’re proud to take this opportunity to acknowledge Nate and Randy Shapiro for their support and continued dedication to the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Forces, and unwavering commitment to the state of Israel,” said Tamir Oppenheim, Midwest Director of the Friends of the IDF.
Architect of a highly successful brokerage firm, SF Investments, Nate was a dear friend of “Moe,” late husband of Goldin Institute founder, Diane Goldin. When he took over as AAEJ President in 1982, Nate stepped up the organization’s political advocacy as well as its direct relief efforts inside Ethiopia. AAEJ had been founded in 1969 to launch a public campaign for Ethiopian Jews, who faced discrimination and dire poverty within Ethiopia and had dreamed of emigrating to Israel since the founding of the state in 1948. Nate organized the U.S. Congressional Caucus for Ethiopian Jews, which negotiated with the governments of Ethiopia, the United States and Israel, and eventually won the backing of U.S. President George H. Bush, who personally convinced the government of Sudan to cooperate with Operation Moses and Operation Joshua, airlifts which finally brought tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
From 1989 to 1991, the AAEJ facilitated the departure of Ethiopian Jews, known as the Beta Israel, from over 300 villages in the Ethiopian provinces of Gondar and Tigray to the capital of Addis Ababa. AAEJ then provided them with food, housing and medical care while Nate and other members of AAEJ’s leadership played a key role in the political conversations. Finally, in May, 1991, the Israeli government launched Operation Solomon, the largest single departure of Ethiopian Jews.
Its mission complete, the AAEJ was disbanded in 1993. However, Nate continues to work with Ethiopian Israelis – both the immigrants as well as their descendants – through Friends of Ethiopian Jews, an organization founded in 1998 to support grassroots organizations working for full integration and successful absorption.