Monday, 25 January 2010

Ashdod Conference 2010 - What a way to leave an impression.

Today marked the 3rd Ashdod Conference for Aliyah & Klita, a conference which discussed the very essence of Aliyah and at the same time dug deep into the core issues that Olim are faced with on a daily level.

Honoured by the presence of many politicians, chair people, heads of and many others, the conference set out to show that Aliyah is taken seriously and is viewed as a valuable part of Israel, Israeli society and the Israeli economy. Speaker after speaker praised the Aliyot from various destinations, encouraged Oleh associations and organisations to continue the efforts to bring more Olim and all made promises to work towards further benefiting the Oleh.

However with praise, romance and honour came reality. It wasn't until the speeches were spoken and the coffee break concluded that the panels began to discuss the real and sometimes not so pleasant issues that come with being an Oleh. Employment issues, racism towards Olim, immigrant youth, were all just a few of the issues discussed thought out the conference.

Being in the midst of it all, sitting deep in the audience, I heard comments in Russian, Amharic, English, French and Hebrew. The comments we not necessarily pleasant or positive all the time, but without a doubt, they were passionate. Passionate about the Oleh, Aliyah and what it means to be living in the Cholent Pot that is Israel.

People will have their comments about whether this years conference was good or bad, interesting or not. Either way, it left people passionate and that will no doubt lead to stronger efforts and even harder work than what already is put in towards benefiting the Olim that continue to arrive.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

One small step for Bituach Leumi, one giant leap for Israeli bureaucracy!

The Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) continues to impress me with their advances in technology and improvement of customer service. It all started when they updated their website to become significantly more user-friendly, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that they have all the information in English!

The day I saw that new website, I went home and had a good night's sleep as I knew that the Oleh would have a much easier experience understanding the details surrounding this complicated government office.

However today I became even more pleased and impressed with Bituach Leumi when I learned about their new "Personal Online Service". By registering for this service you are are able to bypass your local office and avoid the lines. While many may be skeptical of this as it is a new service, I have my hopes up. If Bituach Leumi has taken this step forward, we can only hope that the rest of the bureaucratic offices will follow suit.

Well done Bituach Leumi - my hat goes off to you!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The "Red Carpet" is rolled out for you too...

If you discover something great, you should do what you can to cherish it and keep it alive. That is exactly what the Jewish Agency are doing.

The summer of 2009 saw the first of many Jewish Agency UK group flights and welcomed over 100 new Olim.

From strength to strength the Jewish Agency and Shlichim in the UK developed this initiative and have created a calendar of scheduled flights for 2010. As you have seen in the past, the participants on these group flights received a plethora of services all in the first 24 hours of arrival with their health care, banks, cell phone and most importantly Teudat Zehut in their hands and all taken care of by the time they are sent to their first home in Israel.

It is worth checking out some testimonials and details for future flights.


With services like these, it would be a shame to miss out.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

If you are already here, you might as well...

Changing your status within Israel from tourist, student or other types of visas to Oleh Chadash has always been a daunting and scary thought. For years one had to present a series of documents to the Misrad Hapnim (Ministry of Interior), have an interview and then wait 6-8 weeks for an answer as to whether you have been approved. Heaven forbid you should forget a document or a small detail on your form, as this would lead to an even longer wait.

Thankfully, the Jewish Agency has now introduced another option to changing your status within Israel. Essentially, you will be required to present all the same documents and details, but the main difference is that now you will have someone following you case and letting you know if there is any element of you file that needs to be updated or clarified. Furthermore, they will help you liaise with the Misrad Hapnim to ensure that you understand all the requirements, that your file is being processed appropriate, as well as leaving you feeling that you experienced a pleasant and easy process.

All that being said, just because the Jewish Agency is there to help it does not mean that they will do all the work for you. It is very important that you make sure you have all the appropriate and relevant documents with you, but just to be sure, here is a list to help you check that you are on the right track.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Tight budgets places Olim in Catch 22

As much as it is unpleasant to be the bearer of bad news, it seems that until further notice the Voucher Project has been suspended due to budget cuts.

The Voucher Project, a great initiative by the Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Absorption), offered Olim Chadashim the opportunity to retrain themselves or take on vocational courses to enhance and further their career by paying for up to 80% of the course (up to NIS 10 000). With this benefit put on hold, Olim are now put in a problematic situation. Olim who were hoping to use this benefit are now in a vicious "catch 22". Without the Voucher Project, many people may be left out of work without the funds to retrain themselves to become more employable.

Let's just hope that in 2011 the budget is restored and this wonderful benefit is reintroduced to help the hundreds of Olim that use it every year.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

They did it again!

Once again, the Jewish Agency has made history by successfully bringing over 170 Olim Chadashim from all around the world, on a group experience dubbed "Aliyah on a Red Carpet".

October 14th marked a special day for dozens of Olim who, upon arrival were bussed to Jerusalem for their first days as new immigrants in Israel. The Olim we taken to the Shalom Hotel where they would spend 2 days filled with welcome ceremonies, Aliyah fairs - allowing them to set up all the first steps in the space of 4 hours, as well as have an opportunity to network and meet many other Olim who together share the same meaningful Aliyah date.

Before being sent to their final destinations, the Olim received their Teudot Zehut at a wonderful ceremony on the grounds of the main Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem. Attended by the Minister of Absorption and other honoured guests, the ceremony truly was a celebration of Aliyah. These new immigrants no doubt felt like royalty, as the "Red Carpet" was rolled out to greet them as
Olim Chadashim in Israel.

We wish them the best of luck and an easy, smooth

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Good luck to an old friend...

For many Olim arriving to Jerusalem, there is a place that is hidden in the back streets of the German Colony, in a lush, green campus that is a haven for friendly, easy going people.

Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, affectionately known as The Merkaz, for many years has serviced the
Oleh community. It has acted as the first home for hundreds of Olim Chadashim and has offered them a sense of community from the first day they arrived. The Merkaz has been a unique combination of Abosption Center and Community Center with regular events, chugim, theater productions and much more.

For years, The Merkaz has been nestled in the quiet suburb of the German Colony, where it housed the many
Olim. As of December 31st 2009, The Merkaz will be taking up new residence at 6 Rehov Tzippora in Baka, Jerusalem. With the move, The Merkaz will be transitioning into a new Community Center, offering the favourites from the old and introducing the best of the new.

Let's continue to support this great project! Let's welcome The Merkaz to there new home and show them the appreciation they deserve!