Ravit Greenberg, the program director of the Go South Program, recently told U.W.I. that Southern Israel is the new frontier for Jewish immigrants making Aliyah to Israel.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that assists Jews immigrating to Israel from North America, is promoting Aliyah to Southern Israel via the Go South program. Go South Program director Ravit Greenberg recently told United With Israel, “The mission of the Go South Program is to raise awareness among potential olim (new immigrants) before they make Aliyah. We are also doing the same for people that already made Aliyah yet are living in the center or Jerusalem and assist olim living in Southern Israel to integrate into Israeli society.” The Nefesh B’Nefesh Go South program hosts employment search workshops, social events for both singles and families, and holiday activities for English speaking immigrants in Southern Israel.
Greenberg said housing is significantly less expensive in Southern Israel than it is in the central part of the country and Jerusalem. She said the average cost of living for a family of five in Modiin a city in central Israel, is $5,000, while in Southern Israel’s Be’ersheva, it is only $3,890.
In terms of employment, she said, “It is a region full of opportunities; there is a lot of development. There is the opportunity to make an impact; to start a community; and to dedicate yourself to the community. The South is Israel’s new frontier.” She mentioned the new technology park at Ben Gurion Universty, as well as the Israel Defense Forces, as possible employers for residents in Southern Israel. Greenberg also said that due to the existence of the fast train to Tel Aviv and the Route 6 Highway to Jerusalem, commuting into work in those areas is not as difficult as it used to be.
Greenberg said that although many Israelis are not interested in having a one hour commute to work and don’t want to live far away from their families, Jews from western countries don’t share this worldview: “It is more of a cultural norm in the US that you need to travel to work, to see your family. Yet it should not be an option only for pioneers; you are living in an affordable place for your convenience.”
Greenberg reported that the Go South program has been very successful, “We started in 2012 and I came on board in 2013. Through marketing campaigns, we gathered the interest of 800 families in moving to the south over the last few months and we are engaging with these families. I have had 250 people ask for more information through our website.” She emphasized, “People are shocked by the difference in the cost of living, when you show them a comparative budget. I think that olim who don’t know the geography didn’t know it was so close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. People are shocked how much Be’ersheva has grown. There are a lot of surprises and unraveling of myths. People have concepts of what it is and we are shattering misconceptions.”
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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."
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