is a key barrier to entry for immigrants into a new society. Without language
skills, employment is difficult, if not impossible, to find.
About twenty Ethiopian women immigrants
who live in the towns of Lod and Ramla are fortunate to be employed in an
environment where they can both communicate in Amharic, their native language,
and practice traditional Ethiopian embroidery skills.
Almaz Homecraft Industries
[Almaz = jewel in Amharic] is a joint project of the Lod Municipality,
the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, and JDC-Israel. The project was initiated
and continues under the management of Israeli textile designer, Miki Shapiro.
The colorful, naive products incorporate
traditional Ethiopian embroidery and modern design concepts. Challah covers,
wall hangings, kippot, cushion covers, tablecloths, as well as the mezuzot
which have become their hallmark, are sold on site in Lod, and at a fashionable
boutique in the center of Tel Aviv.