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Support for ultra-orthodox and also Ethiopian Jews (ISR)


Title/name of initiative: 

Support for ultra-orthodox and also Ethiopian Jews (ISR)

Type of initiative:

Support and awareness raising




The ultra-orthodox Jewish community

In the past dementia was considered a mental illness, especially in the case of early onset dementia, and sometimes interfered with the chances of a good marriage arrangement. The ultra-orthodox Jews highly value mental abilities and any cognitive decline might reduce the family’s honour. EMDA, together with an ultra-orthodox care service and rabbis from the community, has succeeded in changing attitudes and improving awareness and knowledge of dementia. Primary care is mostly done by women but men take responsibility for some of the care of Jewish men. Families have been more open recently to hiring 24-hour care. There are now also day care centres for members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and some nursing homes.

The ultra-orthodox Jewish community highly values doing good deeds such as visiting the sick and older people. The Activities for Health project has been very successful in encouraging volunteers to help out in people's homes. The volunteers are all women and they train the daughters within the families in care issues (because female volunteers cannot care for men). EMDA has separate support groups in the ultra-orthodox communities.

The Ethiopian Jewish community

According to tradition, Judaism was introduced to Ethiopia by the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. For thousands of years the Ethiopian Jews lived in a closed community with little contact with other Jewish communities in the world. Most of the community immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in two waves of mass immigration (1984, 1991).  Many of the Ethiopians in Israel came from small, undeveloped villages and one of their main challenges was to adapt to a modern western country and overcome great tragedies which occurred during their exodus to Israel. They came from a strong patriarchal family, bringing different traditions and customs.

Within the Ethiopian community, older people are highly respected and considered the main authority within the family and the community. Even when older people have dementia, people turn to them for advice and don’t know what to do when their judgement is poor. They look at dementia as a physical disease and are often embarrassed by behaviours.  When visitors come round, the person with dementia is often kept in his/her room and they are told that he doesn’t feel well.

EMDA has started a support group in an Ethiopian community that focuses on understanding the disease and how to cope with and care for the person with dementia.

Which ethnic group(s) are covered?

Ultra-orthodox Jews and Ethiopian Jews living in Israel

What is the target audience of the initiative?  

People with dementia and carers



Where or from whom to obtain more information:

The Alzheimer's Association of Israel (EMDA)
Sharet 24
Kefar Saba

Telephone: +972-3-5341274




Last Updated: Thursday 06 May 2021


  • Acknowledgements

    This database received funding from the Robert Bosch Stiftung and under an operating grant from the European Union's health programme (2014-2020)
  • European Union