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About Us

Who we are

Our mission

Keren Hanan Aynor was founded by Sarah Aynor in 1994 in memory of her husband Hanan Aynor, the Israeli diplomat to Ethiopia. Our mission is to address the needs of the Ethiopian immigrant community by assisting talented and highly-motivated Ethiopian Israelis to acquire higher academic education and/or  advanced professional degrees. Our vision is to work directly with members of the Ethiopian Israeli community to promote the emergence of a core leadership committed to serving both internal needs as well as society at large, thus empowering a new generation of Ethiopians to excel and flourish in Israeli society.  
Keren Hanan Aynor inspires Ethiopian Israelis to achieve these goals by providing selected students with financial scholarships to support their education, as well as personal guidance, support, and encouragement during the course of their studies to assist them in completing their degrees.   


For the past two decades, the Foundation has distributed over 4572 scholarships in over 90 fields of study. Beyond the financial assistance, the  education program offers guidance and support to students as they realize their dreams of completing academic degrees.

The foundation supports the following students

Through our program, Keren Hanan Aynor enables Ethiopian-Israeli students to focus on their studies, thereby decreasing the dropout rate from institutions of higher education

Presenting credentials to Emperor Haile Selassie, 1971

Aynor headed the Israel-Africa Friendship League until his death. During the many years of his work in and on behalf of Africa, Aynor formed a strong attachment to Ethiopia and dreamed of bringing its Jews to Israel. Keren Hanan Aynor has become his legacy, helping to ensure a future for Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

In Memoriam

Hanan Aynor, z”l

Born in Frankfurt, Hanan Aynor (then Hans Sonneborn) left Nazi Germany in 1935 and joined Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov in pre-state Israel. During World War II, he served in the British Army behind enemy lines in occupied France. Following the war, Aynor joined the Aliyah Bet operations in Europe, aiding Holocaust survivors to reach Palestine. His roles were diverse, including serving as the official translator for the ship ״Exodus״ during the months that it was detained in the port of Marseille.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel, Aynor joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the next four decades he served his country in Brazil, Canada, the United Nations, and twice, as head of the Ministry’s African desk. He also served as ambassador to Mexico, Senegal, and Ethiopia. 

Brief historical overview

On the Ethiopian community

Since ancient times, Ethiopian Jews have maintained a close link to their Jewish identity and traditions.  A yearning for Jerusalem has always been central to their culture and customs.  
Despite numerous set-backs and tremendous hardships, in the 20th century their dream of immigrating to their homeland in Israel became a reality. 

1975 – The Israeli government confirms that the “Law of Return” applies to Ethiopian Jews.

1979-1990 – A Mossad agent organizes the first journey of 32 Ethiopian Jews to Israel through Sudan. Their letters home inspire many Ethiopians to attempt the  journey through Sudan on foot. The journey is filled with dangers, and during the 1980’s thousands of Ethiopians die en route to Israel.
1984-1985 – Operation Moses: Approximately 7,000 Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel on 23 secret flights flying through Europe. Following a leak to the press about the operation, the Arab world is outraged and the operation is stopped. Numerous Ethiopians are separated from family members left behind in Ethiopia.
1985-1990 – The flow of Ethiopian Jews coming to Israel through Sudan is renewed. Through rescue missions by the Mossad, 1500 immigrants arrive to Israel. During a time span of 10 years, the Mossad helps close to 16,000 Ethiopian Jews through Sudan, not including those who came with Operation Solomon.
1989 –  Renewal of diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Israel: an Israeli embassy opens in Addis Ababa and Ethiopian Jews start arriving to Addis Ababa from surrounding villages.
1991 – Operation Solomon, May 25-26th, 1991: Within 36 hours, an unprecedented aliyah operation takes place and 14,310 members of “Beta Israel” are brought to Israel by air from Addis Ababa. During 1990-1993 over 30,000 Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel.
2021Israel estimates that approximately 145,000 Ethiopian Jews are living in the State of Israel. The aliyah from Ethiopia continues today.

Today’s Challenges in the Ethiopian Israeli Community

While Ethiopian Israelis have made many strides in Israeli society during the past two decades, their overall picture, as compared to the rest of Israeli society, still remains bleak. According to recent studies by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, only 30% of Ethiopian Israelis (compared to the national average of 50%) complete their high school matriculation exams. The average Ethiopian Israeli household has a monthly income of only  NIS 7,328 (~ $1,800), compared with an Israeli national average of NIS 12,010 (~$ 3,000).

Furthermore, there is a far higher incidence of single-parent households, 23%, more than twice the nationwide percentage. 

All of these realities lead many highly talented and motivated Ethiopians Israelis to succumb to economic and emotional pressures and to remain trapped in a vicious poverty cycle which does not enable them to fulfill their potential as the highly-educated contributing members of Israeli society that they long to be. 

Fortunately, there is no shortage of talented and motivated Ethiopians, and if not for lack of financial resources, many more would presently be enrolled in higher academic institutions.

At present, Keren Hanan Aynor turns away over 60% of our qualified applicants due to lack of funds. On a regular basis, it comes to our attention that students who have been turned down by our program due to lack of funding, have either taken a leave of absence from school for a year or have left academia completely. This type of finance-related dropout is directly impacted by the number of scholarships which we are able to provide each year. 

תמונה 4

Our program allows students who are academically and motivationally capable of acquiring degrees to complete their studies without having finances or socio-economic pressures become a deciding factor.