In the early 1980s, the dire plight of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community became a major focus of the world Jewish community. As a result of the Ethiopian civil war and subsequent famine, the survival of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community was jeopardized. Inspired by Israel’s remarkable “Operation Moses” airlift of Ethiopian Jews who had attempted and survived a trek to the Sudan and following the model of the Student Coalition for Soviet Jewry, the Student Alliance for Ethiopian Jewry (SAEJ) educated students nationally and created a gathering in Washington, DC to lobby congressmen and senators on behalf of Ethiopian Jews. As a result of the world-wide outcry, the Israeli government, in May 1991, conducted “Operation Solomon,” airlifting a large percentage of the remaining Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel. In June 1998, the remainder of the Ethiopian Jewish community was airlifted to Israel and almost two decades after its opening the refugee camp in Addis Ababa was closed.
After nearly three years of initial planning, the University named a committee to develop a Center for Complex Systems, dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of intelligence from the perspectives of neuroscience, cognitive science and computer science. Along with Irwin Levitan, Professor of Biochemistry, appointed as the Center’ first director, the advisory committee included Irv Epstein, Professor of Chemistry and Chairman, James Todd (Psychology), Eve Marder (Biology), Alan Prince (Psychology), David Waltz (Computer Science), Arthur Reis (Associate Provost) and Barbara Wrightson (Center staff).