Both Ethiopians and Israelis: Veteran immigrants instruct new immigrants

Rachel Sharaby, Inbal Cirurel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article deals in women instructors (somchot), veteran immigrants from Ethiopia, who are employed as part of the absorption mechanism for immigrants from Ethiopia in Israel. They were instructed to teach domestic functions according to Israeli norms. However, when fulfilling these functions, the instructors also afford cultural interpretations and add their own messages. The article presents three foci in the instructors' work. One focus is on cleanliness and health. In compliance with the state's instructions they impart the Israeli model of domestic cleanliness and personal hygiene to the immigrants. A second focus is a message regarding partnership, which deviates from their role definition and views maintaining the intactness of the marriage among the immigrants as essential for the absorption process. The third focus is the attitude toward the immigrants' ethnic tradition. It is apparent that the women instructors, out of emotional identification, are in favor of the preservation of their culture. Culturally the instructor is Ethiopian on the one hand and Israeli on the other. Israeli society has entrusted her with the role of imparting the Israeli culture. However, she is at the same time an immigrant who lacks power herself. Nonetheless, these women instructors perceive themselves as representatives of the absorbing establishment and strive to resemble the Israeli reference group. The work of these instructors can be viewed as feminist activity of teaching the female immigrants ways in which they can identify tools which they need for coping with the gap between the traditional and the new norms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-497
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's Studies International Forum
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


This research was supported by the research committee of Ashkelon Academic College .

FundersFunder number
Ashkelon Academic College


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