ISRAEL INSPIRED Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates a Decade of Aliyah
Nefesh B’Nefesh: A decade in a nutshell
Olim Making an Impact
Western Aliyah: Israel’s Economic Stimulus Package
Snapshots of Olim
Hidden Desire of a Generation
ver ten years ago, during the early stages of what would become known as the “Second Intifada”, a young relative of Rabbi Yehoshua Fass was murdered by a terrorist while waiting for a bus outside of Petah Tikva. This tragedy, compounded by the many similar attacks during those dark times, had profound ramifications upon the young Rabbi of a community in Boca Raton, Florida. For Rabbi Fass, Aliyah seemed to be the most appropriate response to these tragedies, in the hope that his determination to raise the flag of Aliyah would breathe new life into one of Zionism’s formative and central pillars. After investing in some market research, he was surprised to learn that many among American Jews were deciding not to make Aliyah, not because they lacked a desire but because logistically and pragmatically it seemed way too difficult. Many saw financial, bureaucratic, employment and social barriers as insurmountable obstacles in the realization of their dream of returning to Zion.
who returns to Israel is reconnecting with their national mission making both themselves and their nation stronger. Successful Aliyah literally builds a stronger Israel one Oleh at a time. As Nefesh B’Nefesh celebrates its tenth anniversary, the organization is also marking other auspicious milestones. Firstly, the mission – both personal and national - encapsulated in the Aliyah of every Jew is now being recognized and appropriated by the government of Israel. This has led them to take steps such as recruiting Nefesh B’Nefesh to help meet some of the nation’s challenges. An example of this can be found in the Nefesh B’Nefesh Physician Aliyah Fellowship, which was created in response to an increasing demand for qualified medical practitioners in Israel. Similarly, the organization’s Go North Program demonstrated its ability to contribute to the national mission of developing Israel’s periphery. In fact, while many were doubtful that they would be able to bring 1,000 Olim to the north of Israel within five years, Nefesh B’Nefesh succeeded in surpassing that number in less than 40 months. These results are borne from the passion of modern day Zionists and pioneers moving to the North and from partnerships with the Russell Berrie Foundation, Keren Kayemet LeIsrael and JNF.
When Rabbi Fass first dreamed of reenergizing Aliyah, he knew that one man could help make this vision a reality. Tony Gelbart has spent most of his life devoted to Zionism and promoting Israel in different arenas. As a businessman, he helps foster business relationships between Israel and the United States. Tony’s drive and commitment to Aliyah and Zionism have helped propel Nefesh B’Nefesh to become the vibrant and successful organization it is today.
He turned to one of his congregants, the irrepressible and visionary Tony Gelbart, and together they came up with a plan to revitalize Aliyah. By July 2002, Rabbi Fass was joined by 500 other pioneering Jews on a journey that turned out to be of enormous historic significance. That flight across the Atlantic Ocean not only signaled a new start for the hundreds waiting patiently for the wheels to grind to a halt on the tarmac of Ben Gurion International Airport; but it also heralded the onset of their fledgling organization. While ten years of Nefesh B’Nefesh activity has brought over 30,000 Jews home to Israel, the figures tell only part of the story. Each and every Jew
4 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
The organization also takes immense pride in its Lone Soldier Aliyah Program, which has brought nearly 2,500 passionate and idealistic young Jews to the IDF, many of whom are serving in elite forces and positions vital to Israel’s national security. An expanded program has just been launched internationally in partnership with the Friends of the IDF (FIDF).
Contents Facitiating the Hidden Desire of a Generation
What Does a Decade of NBN Aliyah Look Like?
Minister of Immigrant Absorption - Sofa Landver
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky
Olim Making an Impact
The significant recognition of these programs has witnessed a sea change in perception, both towards Aliyah in general and Nefesh B’Nefesh in particular. This has created a sense at Nefesh B’Nefesh, and among their senior partners in the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigration Absorption, that they are sitting on the cusp of a tipping point for Aliyah.
Nefesh B’Nefesh Special Programs
The two-phase plan that Nefesh B’Nefesh laid out in its early days is nearing a critical point. The first part of the plan required making Aliyah viable and mainstream. While ten years ago, moving to Israel was far from the Jewish Diaspora conversation and consciousness, today it is a vital component of discussions held around North American tables and a critical part of the decision-making process facing increasing numbers of Jews worldwide. Aliyah has been successfully rebranded as viable, facilitating the hidden desire of a generation wanting to actualize their national dream.
Western Aliyah: Israel’s Economic Stimulus Package
Snapshots of Olim
The second part of the plan was an obvious by-product of the first and is being achieved by natural extension. Tens of thousands of North American and British Jews making Aliyah is having ripple effects across western Diaspora communities, meaning that most Jews in North America and the UK today are only one or two degrees of separation away from someone who has made their life in Israel. In an era of social media, this engagement becomes even more pronounced. The old adage that “success breeds success” can be applied to twenty-first century Aliyah. With a retention rate of 97%, successful Aliyah has become the norm and good news spreads quickly. Nefesh B’Nefesh is currently witnessing the realization of this success through the sheer numbers of children following parents, parents following children and the emotional reuniting of relatives and friends in the terminals of the airport during the Aliyah welcome ceremonies. During these past ten years, Rabbi Fass and Tony Gelbart’s passion and commitment to their mission has never abated and they have always made it a priority to accompany the charter planes. Rabbi Fass confesses “I am constantly humbled by the enthusiasm and emotion of the Olim who are born anew and are mesmerized by the unifying nature of these flights. Religious and secular, young and old, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, all pointed in the same direction; home.” As each plane approaches the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and prepares to land, they are constantly reminded that this journey is only just beginning. All of these people will not only be raising the flag of return in the land of their ancestors, but by their mere presence, they will also be working towards the sustenance of a 4,000 year promise.
5 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Credits Sraya Kerner VP Sales and Business Development email@example.com Alon Sivan Chief Commercial Office firstname.lastname@example.org Yehuda Weiss Head of Magazines email@example.com Merav Ifergan, Roi Kadosh Advertising Production Benzi Kluwgant Editor Yoel Bender, Eli Clevs Graphic Design
What does a decade of NBN aliyah look like? Stats at a Glance:
Go North Olim
* Including 8 couples who met on NBN flights and one that got engaged on a flight
Scientists & Medical Professionals
Time Line: January 2002
Founded Nefesh B’Nefesh was founded by Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, with the mission to revitalize North American Aliyah. NBN celebrated the arrival of its first chartered Aliyah flight that summer.
UK Expansion In response to requests from British Jewry, Nefesh B’Nefesh expanded its services to the U.K.
Lone Soldiers Program
In cooperation with the Legacy Heritage Fund, The Physician Aliyah Fellowship was launched to help better integrate physicians into the Israeli medical system.
Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel entered a strategic partnership creating a “onestop-Aliyah-shop” for North Americans making Aliyah.
Nefesh B’Nefesh and the FIDF partnered to help provide comprehensive support services to North American and British Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF.
Lone Soldiers Goes Global NBN & FIDF expand the Lone Soldiers Program internationally.
Go North Program
An unprecedented Israeli Government cabinet decision supporting private Aliyah organizations was passed, instituting State funding for Nefesh B’Nefesh.
In cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Interior, Nefesh B’Nefesh developed software for PC tablets to help streamline the Aliyah process onboard its Aliyah flights.
With the support of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a Knesset lobby was established to encourage Aliyah from western countries.
In cooperation with the Russell Berrie Foundation, the historic ‘Go North’ program was launched to help new Olim to settle in Northern Israel.
Nefesh B’Nefesh celebrates its 30,000th Oleh.
Cooperation With KKL
6 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Launch of ‘Development Project of the Galil & the Negev’ in cooperation with KKL.
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Dear Readers,
I take great pleasure in congratulating Nefesh B’Nefesh on its 10th anniversary. This celebration is first and foremost due to two individuals — Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, who believed in the idea of the Zionist dream that is “Aliyah”, and through hard work, tremendous devotion and a great deal of financial expense, have succeeded in fulfilling the dream of thousands of ’Olim’ to move to Israel. As you surely know, Israel is not just a geographical location. It is also an ideal – where Jewish people from around the world can find sanctuary: religious, civic, cultural and personal. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption has been working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh for some time now and I can personally attest that this close collaboration contributes a great deal in the process of absorbing new Olim. In addition to Tony Gelbart and Yehoshua Fass, I want to congratulate all of the Nefesh B’Nefesh staff, who work tirelessly, day and night (irrespective of the time differences...), to enhancing the Aliyah experience for Olim. Unfortunately, the Israeli Government is unable to encourage Aliyah from abroad. For this mission, we need organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh to take the lead and do so. However, each Oleh that arrives in Israel will receive personal treatment by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, throughout their process of assimilating into Israeli society. Over the past ten years, Nefesh B’Nefesh has taken upon itself to handle the initial steps of potential Olim abroad — helping them make the giant leap from North America, to a new life in the Promised Land. For that, we are grateful.
I wish us all many more years of fulfilling the Zionist dream,
n behalf of The Jewish Agency, I am excited to extend our greetings to the entire Nefesh B’Nefesh family on the historic occasion of your tenth anniversary.
The Jewish Agency is honored to work hand-in-hand with Nefesh B’Nefesh to fulfill our sacred mission of enabling Jews from around the world to make their homes in Israel. Nefesh B’Nefesh deserves much praise for its success. As a very early supporter of your efforts -- well before your first chartered flight landed in Israel -- I join your many friends in celebrating a job well done, a job still being well-done every day. The heart of your success, as I see things, is Nefesh B’Nefesh’s ability to make the entire Aliyah process user-friendly and unencumbered by unnecessary bureaucracy. Even more importantly, as an organization that arose in North America and led by Americans, you have made the idea of Aliyah from North America legitimate and even praiseworthy, rather than a foreign concept. Aliyah is once again on the agenda of the North American Jewish community, and is viewed as an option worth considering by increasing numbers of young people. Finally, you have recognized in a real and constructive way that Aliyah is a sustained process, not just a single decision. By providing unique support and understanding to the Olim, after their arrival, you have increased the prospects for Olim to integrate into Israeli society and adjust more smoothly to this big change in their lives. We at The Jewish Agency regard our partnership with Nefesh B’Nefesh as an important and unique asset. You are a valued partner in our Zionist and fundamental mission. The Jewish Agency is about bringing Jews to Israel and Israel to the Jewish people, and connecting every Jew around the world to one another, to their people, to their heritage, and to their Land. Nefesh B’Nefesh, as your very name suggests, is about harnessing the power of human connection to strengthen the Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the ties that bind us all. We thank you, dear friends, for your partnership and for your vision. We look forward to continuing our work together in the years to come, to fulfill the timeless promise uttered by Jeremiah 2,500 years ago,
“”ושבו בנים לגבולם
“And your children shall return to their own border” Mazal Tov, MK Sofa Landver Minister of Immigrant Absorption.
Natan Sharansky Chairman of the Executive The Jewish Agency for Israel
8 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
From: New York, NY
Psychoanalyst and counter-terrorism expert
sychoanalyst and counter-terrorism expert Dr. Nancy Kobrin made Aliyah in 2010, moving to a life that she finds more meaningful. Since her first trip to Israel in 1972, when she immediately felt at home, the Chicago native had wanted to make Aliyah.
“At this moment in Jewish history, I could not imagine being anywhere but here.”
With training in psychoanalysis and an expertise in post traumatic stress, and the psychology of political violence and its relationship to early childhood development, Kobrin’s expertise in counterterrorism and suicide bombers is
world renowned. Her book, ‘The Banality of Suicide Terrorism’ (Potomac, 2010) has been well reviewed and its Hebrew translation is almost complete. It will also be translated into French. Since making Aliyah, ‘the Dr. Ruth of counter-terrorism’ has immersed herself in all areas of Israeli life and feels much more vested in the social and political reality of Israel. In addition, Kobrin has been interviewed for a documentary on airport security at Ben Gurion Airport called “The Body Does Not Lie”. The film is to be aired on Canadian TV.
From: Toronto, Canada
hree-time Emmy award winner Simcha Jacobovici is anything but the typical Oleh. The much-lauded documentary filmmaker, who brought the tools of investigative journalism into biblical archeology, is known for producing ground-breaking documentaries such as The Exodus Decoded and The Lost Tomb of Jesus. While the accomplished director and producer saw making Aliyah from Toronto, Canada as part of the natural progression of his life, others found Jacobovici’s fascinating odyssey and the ease with which he, his wife Nicole, and their five children made their new life in Israel - as nothing short of inspiring. The documentary community did not immediately accept Jacobovici, rather he had to make his place in Israel. In fact,
anyone who reads the news or watches TV knows that Jacobovici did more than just “make his place here.” Since moving to Israel, Jacobovici has been involved in a number of high-profile and sometimes controversial productions, including the popular documentary series ‘The Naked Archaeologist’ which, he produces and co-hosts with popular Israeli TV host Avri Gilad. The program is featured internationally on Canada’s Vision TV channel, the History Channel and aired in Israel as well. It reviews Biblical stories while exploring Israel to find proof. He was also involved in the production of a documentary shown on the National Geographic Channel called ‘Finding Atlantis’.
10 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Jacovovici Three-time Emmy award winner Simcha Jacobovici is anything but the typical Oleh.
From: White Plains, NY
Entrepreneur, IDF soldier
Lang At an age when other people are focused on just growing up, Lang’s mind has been working overtime exploring technology.
hough only eighteen, Ben Lang is a highly successful young Oleh, with a Silicon Valley start-up and one of the most popular blogs for young entrepreneurs under his belt. At an age when other people are focused on just growing up, Lang’s mind has been working overtime exploring technology and coming up with creative business ideas. He also has a knack for marketing, successfully promoting himself through blogs, news sites and other media. Ben lived in Israel for a year during 9th grade and loved everything about it. At that time he decided that he would make Aliyah after high school and join the Israeli army. That is exactly what he did. He made Aliyah to Kibbutz Sa’ad through Nefesh B’Nefesh in September 2011, and in anticipation of
joining the IDF, he put his tech career on hold while serving his new country. Since arrival, Lang has already utilized his skills and knowledge in the cutting-edge high-tech world of Tel Aviv. The tri-lingual whiz kid (English, Hebrew and French) worked on the marketing team at Wibiya, helping with online marketing, social media, blogging and the like. He is also an active blogger at Business Insider, plus he has contributed to cutting-edge websites TechCrunch and Mashable. Lang was recently one of four young Innovation Israel entrepreneurs who organized Hackathon Israel, an event aimed at sharing Israel’s incredible hightech scene with the entire world.
From: London, UK
Co-Director, TheHive by Gvahim
aris-born Cynthia Phitoussi made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh from the UK with her husband and three young children in 2009 after living in London for eight years. She planned her Aliyah around her children, arriving in Israel just in time for her oldest son to enter first grade. Another son was in preschool and her daughter was just threeweeks old. A natural entrepreneur, Phitoussi had her own company in London and yearned to start something new in Israel. Once here she found that it would be more difficult for her to get a business off the ground in Israel due to her immigrant status and lack of corporate contacts or requisite command of Hebrew. Over a coffee with a friend they discussed how many Olim there must be who have great ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit yet
are held back because of the cultural barriers and lack of contacts. Phitoussi decided to do something to make a difference and TheHive was born. She presented her program to Gvahim, the fit was natural, and the timing was just right. TheHive’s objective is to accelerate start-ups launched by new Olim from an idea to a viable business. The entrepreneurs are matched up with a mentor who might be an experienced business person, investor or senior executive. Gvahim provides the essential tools, local connections and resources needed. They see helping Olim from all over the world to tap into their skills and talents and develop successful businesses as a mission. As for Cynthia Phitoussi’s goal? You can say that her mission is accomplished.
12 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
phitoussi A natural entrepreneur, Cynthia had her own company in London and yearned to start something new in Israel.
From: Montreal, Canada
Medical Director, Romema and Ramat Gan branches, Terem Emergency Medicine Clinics
Zlotnick M.D. Within a short period of time Dr. Zlotnick created over 60 protocols that cover the majority of important diagnoses at Terem.
ust three and half years after making Aliyah from Montreal, Dr. David Zlotnick is revolutionizing emergency medicine in Jerusalem, and his work will soon expand to the entire country - and beyond. When Zlotnick arrived, he noticed that emergency medicine in Israel was about twenty years behind North America, with ER medicine in Israel being segmented instead of having emergency doctors who can take care of everything.
applied his clinical experience, his passion and a healthy dose of chutzpa to formalizing the standard of care at the Terem clinics. Within a short period of time he created over 60 protocols that cover the majority of important diagnoses at Terem, and revolutionized the way Terem works. Now, at the click of a button, all of the doctors working at any Terem clinic nationwide have a reference to use to treat their patients at the highest standard of care.
Recognizing that changing the hospital system would be a Herculean task which would take years, he set his sights on the closest thing to emergency medicine in Israel: the free-standing Terem emergency clinics where he is currently the Medical Director of the Romema (Jerusalem) and Ramat Gan branches. Dr. Zlotnick has
In addition to his Medical Director responsibilities, Zlotnick is in charge of QA for the whole organization and continues to innovate the system and manage it full time. Terem has been so successful that the government of Kenya has asked them to help improve the medical system there.
From: Virginia Beach, VA
n November 2011, Genna Brand combined her two life-defining aspirations when she made Aliyah and joined ASA Tel Aviv, Israel’s National Women’s Football team. Although she had been playing soccer since she was very small, it was only seven years ago, when Genna came to Israel for her first visit, that she realized this was where she ultimately wanted to live. The senior league soccer clubs had shown interest in her since she represented the US in the Maccabia games in 2005 and 2011, however Genna chose to complete her University studies first, starring in her Ohio State soccer team, before making the big move. Now, Genna is playing on the best women’s team in the country, and doesn’t regret for
a moment the choice she made. With her Aliyah, she says that she has internalized the idea that anything is possible, and is living her life this way, moment by moment. This philosophy has gotten her through the good times and the challenges in Israel, and, in fact, ‘live in the moment,’ is advice she would give to anyone moving abroad. Her plan for when soccer draws to an end, is to work for a non-profit that uses soccer as a tool to help bring children of all ages and backgrounds together . “I’m still getting my feet wet, with the move, but always trying to stay optimistic. Why not, right? I’m also learning what it feels like to identify as an Israeli and not just as an American Jew, which I know will have a profound impact on the rest of my life.”
14 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Brand Genna plays on the best women’s soccer team in Israel, and doesn’t regret for a moment the choice she made.
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From: Berkshire, Ct
Founder and Teacher at Meir: Autism Treatment Center
Berman Tali has worked with hundreds of autistic children from over fifteen different countries and co-authored and published a book.
ali Field Berman began her training at the Autism Treatment Center of America™ in 1999 and was certified as a Son-Rise Program Teacher in 2003, the year she made Aliyah. She wasted no time, founding Meir: Autism Treatment Center in Israel the next year, in 2004. Tali has worked with hundreds of children from over fifteen different countries and co-authored and published Play to Grow, over 200 games designed to help autistic children, and children on the autism spectrum, develop fundamental social skills. Children who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum may run the gamut from severe autism to Asperger syndrome and may exhibit such symptoms as minimal eye contact, social withdrawal, resistance to physical contact, delay in language development and engagement in exclusive
repetitive play. When a child is diagnosed with autism, it is a blessing for the family to find a way to communicate with the child and break through the barriers that keep him isolated in his own private world. The Meir Autism Treatment Center, based in Beit Shemesh, is dedicated to helping break those barriers. Berman employed the methodology of the well-reputed Son-Rise Program and was the first professional to bring the technique to Israel and offer it to families as a viable treatment option. Although the Meir Autism Treatment Center does not provide its services free, the support it receives from such foundations as the American Friends of Meir and other donors enables the team to offer low fees and scholarships to keep the program as accessible as possible.
From: Newton, Ma
President and a co-founder of Arava Power Company
osef I. Abramowitz, co-founder of the Arava Power Company, Israel’s leading solar developer, is considered the founding father of the solar industry in Israel and has appeared on numerous Jewish publications’ “most influential” lists. Yosef made Aliyah from Massachusetts with Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2006 with his wife, Rabbi Susan Silverman, and their five children. He became interested in solar power in high school, where he received a regional award for a solar energy project. Since then he has wanted to fulfill David Ben Gurion’s vision of harnessing the power of the Negev to make a solar energy fueled Israel.
Since making Aliyah he has worked tirelessly to affect change in the Israeli government to further his goals and has been working with the Bedouin sector to empower them, already signing with five tribes on a deal for solar power. Yosef is now taking his thriving Israeli business and promoting it in poorer countries worldwide to help them replace their dependence on oil for electricity with solar power. He also advises twenty different governments and is working actively with Haiti, Cyprus and elsewhere. Somehow, he also manages to find time to volunteer such as with the recent Schusterman ROI conference. Abramowitz’s efforts enabled the launch of the Arava’s 4.95-megawatt solar field last year at Kibbutz Ketura - the first mediumsized photovoltaic field in the country.
16 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Abramowitz Yesef envisions harnessing the power of the Negev to make a solar energy fuelled Israel.
From: Santa Monica, CA
Chief, Hospital-Wide Ambulatory Care Services, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa
Gralnek M.D. Professor Gralnek has built a vibrant gastroenterology and endoscopy career in Haifa.
rofessor Gralnek is the chief of hospital-wide ambulatory services at Rambam Medical Center as well as a Senior Physician in the department of gastroenterology and an Associate Professor at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He lives in Haifa with his Israeli-born wife Mazal, their daughter Yuval and two sons Yoni and Ariel. In addition to his hospital and medical school duties, since making Aliyah, Ian has built a vibrant gastroenterology and endoscopy private practice in Haifa. He is active in the Israel Gastroenterology Association, is a member of the European Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy research committee, and is the current
chairman of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). He is also the Senior Associate Editor for the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, which is the world’s premier journal on everything related to gastrointestinal endoscopy. He serves on several other gastroenterology journal editorial boards and is a Deputy Editor of the Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, an international medical journal of Rambam Medical Center. Apart from his highly regarded medical positions, he is also a medical consultant for GIVEN Imaging, the Israeli company that developed and markets capsule endoscopy technology, as well as several other Israeli biotechnology companies.
From: New York, NY
Artist & educator
n the summer of 2006, Geula Twersky fulfilled her lifelong dream of making Aliyah from the United States, together with her husband and their ten children. Artistic visions of this dream, and the inspiration she draws from her Israeli home, led to her receiving Israel’s highest grant award for artistically talented new immigrants. Geula’s art interweaves Jewish tradition, history and the many facets of her own life. The pain she felt as the child of a Holocaust survivor and the national euphoria she experienced as she matured after the 1967 Six Day War have strongly influenced her paintings. Her work delves into the significance of her name ‘Geula’ or
redemption. Geula’s art captures the beauty of the Land of Israel, and the warmth and vibrancy of Judaism in its many cultures and practices. In the summer of 2007, Geula was chosen from among hundreds of new Olim artists who made Aliyah within that decade to display her works in the Knesset. In 2010 her paintings were selected for a government sponsored exhibit in The Ministry of Absorption in Jerusalem in celebration of International Women’s Day. Geula’s paintings are sold around the world and continue to be featured on the Absorption Ministry’s official website, greeting cards and calendars.
18 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
TWERSKY Geula’s art interweaves Jewish tradition, history and the many facets of her own life.
These Nefesh B’Nefesh OIim contribute greatly to Israeli society and their successful integration and absorption serves to encourage their family and friends to follow suit. The day these Olim land, is the day the State of Israel takes-off.”
Shimon Peres President of the State of Israel
Nefesh B’Nefesh, has transformed the face of Western Aliyah. It’s vision, passion and leadership have been instrumental in providing not only the impetus for an unprecedented number of North American Jews to move to Israel but in easing their transition at each step of the journey.”
Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister
The momentum of Aliyah that Nefesh B’Nefesh has set in motion and continues to foster is remarkable and will have a long lasting and important impact on the Jewish world.”
Natan Sharansky Chairman, The Jewish Agency for Israel
Nefesh B’Nefesh has enabled the ‘Aliyah’ of considerable numbers of North Americans and has assisted them in integrating socially and professionally. They are not coming on ‘Aliyah’ for economic reasons or to escape anti-Semitic persecution, but as a result of their unequivocal Zionism and their love for the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau Chief Rabbi, Tel - Aviv Jaffa, Israel
It is through the realization of this dream of bringing the Jewish people back home to Zion that we can all unite to support the State of Israel. Nefesh B’Nefesh has done a most wonderful thing.”
Ariel Sharon Former Prime Minister
20 | ISRAEL INSPIRED: Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years of Aliyah
Nefesh B’Nefesh Special Programs In addition to helping over 30,000 North American and British Olim move to Israel, over the past decade Nefesh B’Nefesh has created a number of special programs to help provide more tailored and focused assistance to specific segments of Olim:
Lone Soldiers Program As most high school seniors in America are planning for life The program offers guidance, social and emotional support, away from their families for the first time and college students quarterly care packages, adoptive families and financial aid, as well are planning their spring break, a small, passionate group of as assistance to parents of Lone Soldiers in the form of information their peers are embarking on a quite different, selfless path. An and support. Lone Soldiers also receive assistance with their‘second increasing number of Jewish-Americans are opting out of the Aliyah’ upon being discharged from the IDF and entering Israeli typical college experience in the United States, choosing instead society– including career counseling, job placement, education, to make Aliyah and serve in the Israel Defense Forces economic guidance and postas lone soldiers; soldiers without family or friends in army integrative services. Israel. For many of us, changing jobs or apartments • Over 2,500 Oleh Lone is stressful and difficult, but imagine how much Nefesh B’Nefesh has brought Soldiers since 2002 more so for these young adults making Aliyah. They over 2,500 Oleh soldiers, with voluntarily and eagerly move thousands of miles over 900 currently serving in • NBN Olim have joined the away from their families, often not even speaking active combat – a number the native Hebrew language, all in an effort to that is increasing at rapid most elite units in the IDF, volunteer three years of their lives in army fatigues, pace, with over 400 arriving including: the Air Force, contributing to an ideal larger than themselves. This each year. Although many of “Matkal” & Navy seals phenomenon is unparalleled in the world. these soldiers have received awards for bravery in combat, • 400 North American Olim In order to assist and support these brave young each lone soldier’s bravery is enlist in the IDF every year men and women who choose to serve and protect evidenced from the moment the State of Israel upon making Aliyah, a special FIDFthey make the decision to Nefesh B’Nefesh Soldier Aliyah Fund was established. leave their families and serve The program provides comprehensive support for Lone Soldiers in the IDF. Nefesh B’Nefesh’s assistance to the soldiers continues from across the globe, offering NBN services throughout every well after they are released from active duty. Services provided stage of their Aliyah process - before and during their army service, after the army include higher-education specialists, employment and with their post-army acclimation into Israeli life. assistance, and array of social services.
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Go North Program The Go North program’s objective is to bring 1,000 Olim to Northern Israel over a five year period. In 2011, three years after launching the program, over 750 Olim had already taken advantage of the program and moved to the North. The program enables a more successful integration into Northern Israel and offers a diverse range of community choices. Go North Olim are living in Karmiel, Maalot, Nahariya, Misgav, Tzfat, Migdal Haemek, Afula, and Three years into the Katzrin,. They are also living in smaller program NBN has communities such as: Hanaton, Mitzpe Netofa, Eshchar, Beit Shearim, Yavniel brought over 750 Olim and Shlomi.
In 2008, Nefesh B’Nefesh launched an unprecedented pioneering initiative aimed at encouraging North American and British Olim to settle in Israel’s north and benefit from all the great opportunities the region has to offer. The program, called ‘Go North’, aimed to encourage Olim who are drawn to Northern Israel but may be reluctant to move far from country’s center, by providing significant financial grants and other forms of assistance. The initiative, which is a joint partnership of the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Jewish National Fund, the Ministry of the Development of the Negev and the Galilee and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption is designed to ease the transition into communities in the North by creating the conditions for a seamless professional and social integration.
to live in Israel’s North.
Participants benefit from regional employment assistance, transportation subsidies, Hebrew language support, affordable housing, social programming, and assistance from Nefesh B’Nefesh staff dedicated to the region.
Many of the program participants are young families drawn to Northern Israel’s scenic environs, high quality of life, good school systems and vibrant community life. Whatever the reason, Anglo Olim moving up north are finding many warm, embracing communities who welcome them into their midst with open arms and provide the community and lifestyle they are seeking.
Physician Aliyah Fellowship In response to the physician shortage expected in Israel in the coming years, the Israeli government and various concerned organizations charged Nefesh B’Nefesh with the mission of increasing the number of doctors making Aliyah from the west. Nefesh B’Nefesh established the Physician Aliyah Fellowship, which provides an incentive program that better integrates Oleh physicians into the Israeli medical establishment. The program has met with great success, with interest by physicians abroad and support of the Israeli medical establishment far exceeding expectations.
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• To date, 378 physicians and over 650 other medical professionals have made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh. • In 2011, Nefesh B’Nefesh brought over 40 doctors on Aliyah.
Israel’s Economic Stimulus Package
any of the early waves of immigrants to Israel consisted of Jews fleeing their home countries to a nascent State that struggled and sacrificed to absorb them. Yet the fledgling nation saw a moral imperative and fundamental Zionistic duty in assisting and integrating these impoverished refugees. In time, those refugees and their offspring became the backbone of the nation. By contrast, Oilm today who arrive from Western countries through organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh (“NBN”) demand far fewer resources from the nation; on the contrary, they are proving to be a tremendous economic and social asset to their new host country. Recently, NBN commissioned a report from prestigious global accounting firm Deloitte to examine and quantify the benefits of Western Aliyah for Israel, and to determine the Israeli government’s return on the funds it invests in Aliyah. The impressive results of the Deloitte report lead to one inescapable conclusion: the impact of Western immigration to the State of Israel is remarkable.
economy. First, high levels of employment mean low expenditures on unemployment benefits. Additionally, quicklyemployed NBN Olim also become quickly-paying taxpayers--on higher than average incomes, generating government revenue increases within a short time. Add to that some favorable demographics: 70% of adult NBN Olim make Aliyah between ages 18 and 45. This age group is an economic “sweet spot,” with many years ahead to gain valuable professional experience, generate high per capita incomes, employ other people and stimulate economic activity in their communities—all of which adds to economic growth and government revenues. In addition, NBN Olim arrive in Israel with higher than average education levels and skill sets, thus requiring the Israeli government to bear little cost in terms of education investment. Deloitte estimates that Israel has saved NIS 354 million in education expenses alone through this educated Aliyah. Additionally, Olim with higher levels of education and know-how are immediately valuable to Israeli employers, can integrate smoothly into the workforce, and are qualified for high-qualification positions, all of which boost Israel’s economic strength.
According to the findings, in the decade since NBN began operations, its Olim have made a net economic contribution of over NIS 1.6 billion to the Israeli economy, over $420 million. This immense contribution can to a large extent be attributed to the assistance Nefesh B’Nefesh provides its Olim. For example, while finding employment is a significant concern for potential Olim, NBN provides essential personalized assistance to help Olim find work soon upon arrival. As a result, the report points out that a full 90% of Nefesh Olim seeking work secured employment within their first six months of Aliyah. The study also highlighted the massive financial benefit to the Israeli government from providing financial incentives to Western Olim. According to the findings, the government’s investment in NBN Olim was returned within just two years – a more impressive ROI that most businesses can boast. Extrapolating from those impressive statistics, one finds related positive effects of NBN Aliyah throughout Israel’s
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NBN Aliyah also directly impacts Israel’s tourism industry: Deloitte determined that NIS 568 million has been infused into the economy since 2002 just by friends and family visiting NBN Olim. Despite the difficulties for new immigrants and for the State straining to absorb them, new Olim improve Israel’s cultural and political climate and strengthen Israeli society with their infusion of Zionist idealism. Their Aliyah also represents a substantial financial contribution to the country, injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.
Snapsh ts today
Eric & Ahava Greenberg + Family
Made Aliyah from Twin Rivers, NJ
Made Aliyah from Cedarhurst, NY
When Kenneth arrived on the August 2004 NBN Charter Aliyah flight, he was greeted at the airport by Elisheva holding up a sign that said “Ken, will you Marry me?” They now have 4 children together, all born in Jerusalem - Ya’ara (6), Tiferet (4), Netzach (2) and Clilah (4 months).
Eric, works as an investment banker, and Ahava works as an architectural and interior designer. Their daughter Raquel graduated from the Mercaz Dance academy, and is now learning in the Technion, Benjamin is on the Israeli team heading for the Tae Kwon Do Olympics in England this Fall. Gabrielle is also at a dance academy and Emanuella is a Flamenco dancer and soccer player.
The surprise ‘proposal’ certainly made my Aliyah that much more emotional.”
Each new home built represents another family’s future here.”
Made Aliyah from Janesville, WI
Made Aliyah from Knoxville, TN
As a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Ephraim was deployed to Iraq twice and served as tank commander and platoon leader. He maintains that it was his desire and dream to make Aliyah to Israel that carried him safely all throughout his military service. Ephraim is now in a serious relationship and learning Arabic while working at the U.S. Embassy.
Keren is currently studying for a master’s degree in Organizational Behavior and Development at IDC Herzliya and works as the Director of International Development and Marketing at an international boutique consulting firm in Tel Aviv. She is married to Yinon Arazi, an Israeli ‘Yerushalmi’ she met on a “blind date” four years ago.
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Shoshana Kogan Made Aliyah from Dallas, TX Shoshana met Asaf Aharon, a native Jerusalemite, a few months after making Aliyah and they married in August 2010. They have a daughter who they named Ma’ayan Esther - partially because Shoshana loves hiking in the springs around Jerusalem. Shoshana works in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and served on the faculty of the Avi Chai Foundation/JAFI enrichment program for summer emissaries for 3 years. Special Aliyah Moment: “What I love about making Aliyah is that there’s no rush to squeeze everything in during this trip to Israel because I no longer have to worry about a return flight - I am here and there is time to do and see everything I’ve always wanted to.”
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Josef & Sherilyn Mandelbaum + Family Made Aliyah from Beachwood, OH Yosef is the CEO of Perion, a high-tech company based in Ramat Hachayal and Sherilyn is a yoga instructor. Sherilyn is also a volunteer at Mishne Lechem and their synagogue Ohel Arie. Special Aliyah Moment: “When our daughter had her siddur party we had the opportunity to hear Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau speak at this special event. The moment Rabbi Lau handed Eliana her siddur I truly felt the continuation and perpetuation of generations and the Ingathering of the Exiles.”
Made Aliyah from Washington, DC
Made Aliyah from Pittsburgh, PA
Jordana is currently married with a son, Eitan, and serving as Deputy to the Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister.
In 2008, Frances, who was a passenger on the famed Exodus ship in 1947, finally fulfilled her 60 year old dream of living in Israel when she made Aliyah at the age of 87 on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight.
Special Aliyah Moment: The week after making Aliyah, and before her lift had arrived, Jordana fell ill. Despite never having met in person, an Israeli girl from Jordana’s university program came over with hot, homemade soup. The warm soup led to a close friendship. “Only in Israel.”
I wanted to spend the end of my years in Israel. It is a dream come true.”
Friends of the IDF (FIDF) congratulates Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) on its 10th anniversary We are proud to partner with NBN on the new Lone Soldiers Program. For 31 years, FIDF has been initiating educational, social, cultural and recreational programs to improve the wellbeing of IDF soldiers, knowing that the safety of the Jewish people rests on their shoulders. FIDF supports thousands of Lone Soldiers who left familiar lives to make Aliyah and serve the State of Israel. It is our honor to take on the important mission of helping Lone Soldiers throughout their first few years in Israel. Their Job is to Look After Israel. Ours is to Look After Them.
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Made Aliyah from Montreal, Canada
Made Aliyah from Overland Park, KS
Since making Aliyah, Ruth has married and had three sabra children - Yehonatan (3), Amichai (2) and Noa (9 months). Currently, she is working as the Director of International Development at Yedidim, an organization committed to reshaping the lives of immigrant children and youth at risk.
Rachel is studying in Ulpan at Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan and working in a kindergarden there. She also volunteers as a therapeutic horseback riding counselor. In a few months she will begin Tzofin Garin Tzabar in Kibbutz Nir Oz in the south and will join the IDF with a group of lone soldiers.
Noa Choritz Made Aliyah from Pittsburgh, PA In the ten years since making Aliyah, Noa earned a nursing degree, married and gave birth to three sabras – Akiva (5.5), Hadara (3), and Yonah (1 month). She works as a nurse, specializing in maternity and high-risk obstetrics at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital and is also a board-certified lactation consultant.
I made Aliyah as a single person so that my children wouldn’t have to.”
Herman & Mia Weiss Made Aliyah from West Hempstead, NY Herman and Mia had always said they aren’t making Aliyah because they have ‘too much stuff’. When their house burned down with all its contents, they took this as a strong message to rethink where they were living and what they were doing with their lives. Herman works part time as an Obstetrics and Gynecology MD and is the Global Medical Director for Women’s Health at Teva. Mia started a computer job placement company.
Alexander Singer Made Aliyah from Middlesex, UK Aly made Aliyah from London at the age of 28 in a slightly unconventional way. Together with Oleh Yan Cohen, he drove 2,500 miles through Europe over 18 days in a 1948 Rolls Royce, as part of the ‘JNF UK London – Jerusalem Car Rally’ commemorating Israel’s 60th anniversary. When they arrived in Jerusalem they received their Israeli identity cards at a formal reception at the Knesset. Aly is now married with two Israeli-born children, and works as a tax accountant in Jerusalem.
Harvey & Bonnie Brooks Made Aliyah from Tucson, AZ Harvey is an accomplished musician who has played bass with rock legends such as Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors and other music legends spanning the 60’s and 70’s. He is currently working in a number of projects with local musicians. Bonnie continues to work on film production. ““Life in Israel for my wife Bonnie and me is amazingly energetic and exciting - there is so much interaction with different cultures, languages and customs”
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Joshua Weiss Made Aliyah from Las Vegas, NV Josh is a career counselor at an Israeli high tech company and specializes in public speaking. He also coaches baseball to Israeli youth and last summer played on the Israeli National Baseball Team when they hosted the European Qualifier. “Lining up on the first base line with Israel written across my chest and the flag sewn on my shoulder I stood listening to the crowd sing the Hatikvah. I thought; “This is it…I’m Israeli!”
Mel & Maya Litman + Family Made Aliyah from Toronto, Canada Mel and Maya are working to develop Orthomolecular Medicine in Israel. This is a relatively new and individualized medical discipline that uses natural substances to address the underlying cause of a wide range of disease processes. Special Israel Moment: “After one of our children was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness the outpouring of help and prayers we received on a daily basis from our community and throughout the country confirmed our decision to live in Israel.”
Esteban & Jennifer Klor + Family Made Aliyah from Rochester, NY
Tuvia Grossman Made Aliyah from Chicago, IL
Esteban is a professor of economics at Hebrew University. Jennifer is a graphic designer involved in a myriad of projects including designing and creating personalized birkonim.
Tuvia is a lawyer specializing in energy and infrastructure and corporate work. He was famously mislabeled in a NY Times picture which identified him as a Palestinian being attacked by Israeli police when in fact the police were protecting him, a Jew, from an angry Arab mob.
Special Israel Moment: “Our entire life here is a special Israel moment. We feel at home here and integrated into our neighborhood, our community, and our workplaces interacting constantly with people from all over the world, knowing that we’re all here to live a meaningful Jewish life in Israel.”
Special Israel Moment: “I once spent 20 minutes haggling intensely in the shuk in Yafo. After we finally agreed on a price I realized I did not have enough money in my wallet. The vendor handed me the item, insisting I take it and told me to pay him next time I am at the market. He even refused to take the little cash that I did have, telling me he did not want to leave me with no cash in hand.”
Stanley & Janet Morais + Family Made Aliyah from Toronto, Canada As former general manager of El Al’s Canadian operations, Stanley already had his foot in the door with Israel’s national airline. Having started as the manager of international relations & special segments when he arrived, Stanley is now head of the corporate sales division in Israel. Janet works hard to ensure that the family home is a happy and healthy place for their three Canadian-born daughters to grow up.
Nachum & Michal Kligman + Family Made Aliyah from Passaic, NJ Since making Aliyah with their daughter on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah flight the Kligmans have had 5 more children. Among various ventures, Nachum is a startup business consultant, the Co-Founder/CEO of SportsFan.me, and founder of Viewbix, Inc. Special Israel Moment: “The day after we made Aliyah we went to the Kotel. It was the first time that our daughter had been there. When she kissed the wall my eyes swelled up in tears and I thought “this is what it’s all about.”
I love helping other Olim take their ideas and get them off the ground.” 2008
Eytan Morgenstern Made Aliyah from New Brunswick, NJ When Sasson Tiram, the official photographer of NBN’s charter flight arrival ceremonies met his daughter’s fiancé he chuckled to himself at the amazing coincidence. Sasson had photographed his future son-in-law, Eytan, as he disembarked from a NBN charter flight in the summer of 2008. Now Eytan lives in Beer Sheva with his wife Rut, where he studies in Yeshiva and is a counselor for students and high-school students from England and America on short-term trips in Israel.
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Dvorit and Russell Shain Made Aliyah from Brooklyn, NY The Shains named their two sons after Israeli Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu before making Aliyah. By chance, both former Prime Ministers were at the NBN Welcome Ceremony when the Shains made Aliyah and got to shake hands with their namesakes.