Adaptation and Creativity in the Ethiopian Israeli Immigrant Experience

Manifestations of Social and Psychological Change

Adaptation and Creativity in the Ethiopian Israeli Immigrant Experience

Dr. Weinstock with the artists featured in the UCLA exhibition, the curatorial team, and Dr. Patricia Greenfield of UCLA (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Hittleman).

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Michael Weinstock will discuss how the art in UCLA's Ethiopian Israeli sculpture exhibition, and the lives of the artists, reflect the social change and psychological adaptations of three generations of Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Powell Library - East Rotunda

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Co-sponsored by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and the UCLA African Studies Center. Art works are on loan from the Michael Hittleman Gallery, Los Angeles.


It has been over 30 years since Operation Moses, the first large scale immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Elements of the story told from a large perspective include the tremendous will of the people to reach their promised land and the unspeakable hardships they endured on their way, the resources mobilized by dedicated organizations and the Israeli government to bring the community from Ethiopia and its waystation in Sudan, and the challenges and obstacles to absorbing the community from a different ethnic and Jewish religious culture into mainstream Israel.

This lecture will talk about a different element of the story from a closer perspective. An ongoing research project involving researchers at UCLA and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel looks at how social change impacts shifts in psychology and values across generations. With Ethiopian Jewish immigrants this social change has been both drastic—in the move from Ethiopia to Israel—and gradual, as in the years since their immigration Israel has become more oriented toward commerce and focusing on individual advancement over community goals.

The art in the current exhibition of Ethiopian Israeli sculpture at UCLA can be seen in this context. The lecture will discuss how this art, the lives of the artists, and other examples from the research project in Israel reflect the psychological adaptations that have accompanied the social change undergone over three generations in the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel.


Dr. Michael Weinstock is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His primary area of research concerns people’s understandings about the nature of knowledge and knowing with a particular focus on cross-cultural differences and variations within cultures.

His current research concerns the impact of social change on the development of values and conceptions of knowledge in communities in transition, including Arabs living in northern Israel, Bedouins, and Ethiopian Jews. As the chair of his university’s school psychology program, he has also directed special programs in school psychology for Arab, Bedouin, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish students.

Dr. Weinstock completed his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Sponsor(s): African Studies Center, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies