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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘aliyah’

Birthright Expands Eligibility for Free Trips to Israel

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

The Taglit-Birthright Israel program has expanded eligibility for its free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26 to include teenagers who went on an educational trip to Israel during high school

Birthright’s eligibility guidelines previously stated, “If you have been to Israel before but only with your family or on other personal business, you are still eligible. However, if you have been to Israel as part of a touring group, educational program, study program or an organized extended residential program since you were 12 years old, you are not eligible.”

“I think everybody thought about [the change in the eligibility guidelines] for many years, and everybody wanted to have it,” Noa Bauer, Birthright’s vice president of international marketing, told JNS.org.

“It was a matter of funding, and I think today you see more anti-Israel things on campus, and we realized over the years that people that have been to Israel again have more confidence for talking about Israel, and geopolitics, and anything pertaining to Israel after visiting with Birthright Israel. I think we’re one of the best platforms to do that for college students.”

In the 13-plus years since philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt joined forces with the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel, global Jewish communities, and other philanthropists to fund Birthright, the program has taken about 350,000 young Jews to Israel.

A series of studies by Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies have shown that former Birthright participants are 42 percent more likely to feel “very much” connected to Israel compared to people who didn’t go on the trip. Program participants are also more likely to belong to a religious congregation than those who did not attend Birthright, and participants are also slightly more likely than non-participants to make charitable contributions to Jewish or Israeli causes, according to the Cohen Center research.

Make Aliyah, Be an Achiever and Win $10,000

Monday, January 13th, 2014

A food bank chairman, a solar energy pioneer and the creator of the “Dry Bones” comic strip are among the first winners of a Nefesh B’Nefesh prize recognizing immigrants to Israel.

More than 200 immigrants from English-speaking countries were nominated for the Bonei Zion Prize, which was awarded in five categories as well as for lifetime achievement. The recipients hailed originally from the United States.

Each of the winners will receive a $10,000 prize at a ceremony soon in Jerusalem.

Joseph Gitler, who made aliyah in 2000, won in the Community and Non-Profit category for his work as founder and chairman of Leket Israel, a national food bank that provides food for more than 140,000 people weekly.

Malke Bina, the founder and chancellor of the women’s learning center Matan, received the award in the Education category. Bina, who was one of the first educators in Israel to teach Talmud and Jewish law to female students, made aliyah in 1971.

The recipient for Entrepreneurship and Technology was Yosef Abramowitz, the CEO and a co-founder of Energiya Global Capital as well as a co-founder of the Arava Power Company. Abramowitz, whom Nefesh B’Nefesh dubbed “Israel’s premier solar energy pioneer,” made aliyah in 2006.

Jeffery Hausdorff, the recipient in the Science and Medicine category, left a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School in 2000 to make aliyah and is now a professor at Tel Aviv University and director of the Neurodynamics and Gait Research Laboratory at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Hausdorff has contributed to research in neuroscience and aging in Israel and worldwide.

Yaakov Kirschen, creator of the popular “Dry Bones” comic strip, received the prize in the Culture, Sports and Arts category. Kirschen made aliyah in 1972.

Lt. Nira Lee, head of hasbara at the headquarters of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, received the prize in the IDF and National Service Young Leadership category. The Arizona native has served in the Israel Defense Forces for three years; she made aliyah in 2010. Lee received the President’s Citation of Excellence in 2013.

The Lifetime Achievement winner was Shimon Glick, a professor and dean emeritus of the health sciences faculty at Ben Gurion University. He made aliyah in 1974 to help found the university’s faculty of medicine.

“We hope that accentuating the achievements of Anglo olim will serve as a catalyst to inspire others to make aliyah as well as highlight the achievements of these olim who are helping to make a difference to our homeland,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, the executive director and a co-founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh, in a statement.

Aliyah from the US Down13 Percent in 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Only 2,680 Jews moved to Israel from the United States this past year, an 11 percent decrease from the 3.070 who “made aliyah” in 2012, according to information provided by the Jewish Agency and Ministry for Absorption and immigration.

The number of new olim from Canada was virtually unchanged, with 321 moving to Israeli in 2013, two more than in 2012.

The decline of American olim continues the reversal of an upwards trend in Aliyah that peaked in 2008 and raises questions about the future of American Zionism, if it is defined as packing up and leaving “home” to go home. In 2008, 3,300 Jews moved from the United States and Canada to Israel. The number declined slightly to 3,260 in 2009 and then dropped sharply the following two years to 2,801 and 2,575.

No figures were supplied concerning the breakdown of affiliation, but Jews who identify with Orthodoxy have consistently been the largest group, usually between half and two-thirds of new olim.

Aliyah from other countries this past year generally increased, with the most dramatic rise in France, with the arrival of 3,120 immigrants this year, compared to 1,916 in 2012.

The biggest decrease was registered in Ethiopia, which was expected because of the conclusion of Operation Dove’s Wings

“Every immigrant who arrives in order to make his or her home in Israel fills me with joy and I hope Aliyah continues to increase, “said Immigration Minister Sofa Minister Landver.

Chairman Sharansky: “That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s

According to an analysis of the data, Israel experience programs for French Jewish youth and Aliyah encouragement efforts

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky stated, “Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish people. That 19,200 Jews have chosen to establish their lives in Israel is a concrete expression of Israel’s centrality to Jewish life and to Jews around the world. This is an era of Aliyah by choice, rather than Aliyah of rescue.”

Given the assimilation rate of approximately 70 percent in the United States, that statement could easily be argued.

Israel Planning ‘Rescue’ Operation for French Jews

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The Israeli government is expected to approve soon a plan to bring tens of thousands of French Jews to Israel within the next three years, according to a report in Makor Rishon on Friday.

An Aliyah plan of this scale hasn’t been attempted since Operation Moses and Operation Solomon rescued Ethiopian Jewry and and brought them to Israel.

Currently, tens of thousands of French Jews are essentially fleeing France, in great part due to the serious rise in antisemitism in that country. The problem is that they are leaving France to go to London, Canada, and the US. A mere 3,000 of the the Jews who left France in 2013 made it to Israel.

The Israeli government has determined that in order to entice French Jewry to come to Israel, three primary areas must be addressed: employment, housing and quality education.

In order to address the employment issue, the government is set to recognize existing French professional licenses in the fields of medicine and tax advise; it will consider placement in the army in jobs that actually fit the Oleh’s professional skill set, and will assist existing business owners wishing to bring their companies over to Israel.

The programs Taglit (birthright) and Masa, intended to strengthen Jewish identity and solidarity with Israel through a 10-day trip to Israel for young Jews will be expanded to French Jewish youth.

And French Jews will be practically guaranteed slots in the top schools.

The goals of the program are to double the number of French Jews brought to Israel each year. In 2014, the goal will be 6,000 Jews, 12,000 in 2015, and 24,000 in 2016.

The cost of the program is still unknown. The effort will be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s office.

The strategy is to create a 3 year window of opportunity for French Jewry, telling them: Come to Israel now while the going is good, because we can’t guarantee these conditions in the future.”

We at The Jewish Press are calling it “Operation Moïse.”

IRS Tax Regulations Prompt Olim to Revoke American Citizenship

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A get-tough IRS policy on Americans living abroad has encouraged some Americans living abroad, including “olim” in Israel, to revoke their American citizenship, the Globes business newspaper reported.

The United States taxes its citizens’ income even if they have been living abroad for years, and agrees with most banks in the world now expose all of their financial accounts to the IRS and make them liable for heavy dual taxation.

One way to get avoid it is to renounce citizenship, which would preclude the IRS from chasing after people to pay taxes on income that does not come from the United States.

Changes in the Israeli tax code also have given big tax breaks to new immigrants as well as Israelis returning to the country.

“Although it is not clear how widespread this phenomenon is, and what relative importance U.S. citizens who immigrate to Israel place on this aspect among the array of considerations that they take into account in deciding to immigrate to Israel, tax residency is certainly a factor,” according to Israeli lawyers Eli Doron and Eyal Peled.

Ya’alon on South Lebanon, Personal Message about Aliyah

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents his exclusive interview with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon. Yishai interviewed Minister Ya’alon during his visit to the Mount of Olives Jewish community in Jerusalem. They discuss the rocket threat to all of Israel from South Lebanon and how Tzipi Livni’s claim to have a solution for peace is nothing more than a deception. They move on to talk about the need to strengthen Zionist and Jewish identity among Israelis. Ya’alon gives a personal message to all Jews about the centrality of Israel. Yishai ends the segment with his reaction to Minister Ya’alon’s views and some ideas on how to infuse Israeli society with Jewish culture using practical steps that will improve everyone’s lives.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Should Israel Help Save America’s Jewish Community?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

On the list of really difficult dilemmas, this has to be in the top 10. Should the State of Israel, fast becoming the biggest—and certainly the most Jewish identified—Jewish center in the world, make an effort to save the second largest Jewish center from disappearing?

According to an AP report Monday, headlined “Israel reaches out to save US Jewish community,” more than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month to discuss the “daunting mission” of saving Jewish life in North America.

In my opinion, Israel must invest only in one, narrow, even narrow minded effort: bringing Jews from the West to Israel, before it’s too late. Be the immigration country you’re supposed to be. Instead of spending money on strengthening Jewish identity in countries where such an identity is borderline meaningless—create better incentives for Jews to make Aliyah.

The economic crash is not going away any time soon in the U.S. and Western Europe, even as things look less terrible than they did 5 years ago. Israel should make it its business to entice a million Western Jews to make the move, by offering them a better life in the Jewish State.

Having made the move myself, with my family, only two years ago, I can tell you that besides the great weather and spiritual advantages, Israel also has a robust economy, where an educated Jew can make a future for himself or herself, and a fantastic healthcare system, where no one, but no one is left behind. But Israel should invest in making its system easier for newcomers to navigate, and, most crucially, create attractive housing opportunities across the country.

According to AP, Israel has invested more than $125 million trying to bring young Jews to visit, as a way of strengthening their ties with the Jewish homeland. More than 300,000 young Jews from around the world have been brought over by Birthright, with funding from Israel and Jewish philanthropists.

But studies show that the effect of the trips is usually short termed.

It’s no secret that assimilation and intermarriage are shrinking Jewish American communities at an ever faster pace, the notorious Pew study has found that young American Jews are growing increasingly estranged from Judaism.

Moreover, many American Jews, especially the younger ones, who are mostly socially liberal, have serious doubts about Israel’s security policies. Would they accept help from Israel, which they’re often more likely to boycott?

American Jews who are anti-Israel have reached that position over two or three key issues, all of them born by media distortion and outrageous political hypocrisy: the right of Jews to live in the disputed territories; the right of women to pray at the Kotel wearing talit and tefillin; and, maybe, Israel’s African illegal migrants problems.

“An Israel which doesn’t address these issues is an Israel which in the long run endangers the relationship with world Jewry,” Donniel Hartman told AP. He said Jews who don’t believe Israel shares their liberal values may disconnect from it.

It used to be that U.S. Jews saw themselves as Israel’s lifeline, raising millions of dollars and lobbying government on its behalf. At least that was the common perception. But today Israel is an affluent country, with a thriving economy, a stunningly innovative high tech industry, and the strongest army in the Middle East.

It is also the superior intellectual and religious center of the Jewish world, far exceeding the accomplishment of the U.S. Jewish community. And so, despite the fact that many American Jews aren’t happy with it, Israel is the natural choice when it comes to saving their communities from oblivion.

Obama Plans to Name Stanley Fischer as Vice Chairman of the Fed

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

The Obama administration is close to announcing that former Israel Bank Governor Stanley Fischer will take over the number two position at the Federal Reserve Bank under recently confirmed director Janet Yellen.

Fischer was hoping to be named head of the Fed,  but at 70, his age was a barrier.

Fischer is widely respected in financial circles, and he has been credited, perhaps too much, with having steered Israel’s economy to become one of the world’s strongest  during the global crisis after the 2008 financial fallout in the United States.

Fischer also is seen as being responsible for keeping down the value of the shekel against the dollar so that exports would not suffer.

He left the United States to take over as Governor of the Bank of Israel in 2005, agreeing to make aliyah because the job required his becoming an Israeli citizen. However, his Zionism lasted only as long as he wanted to stay on the job. He quit in the middle of his second term earlier his year and moved back to the United States.

Since quitting, he has been more vocal in his opinions that Israel must concede to most Palestinian Authority demands.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-plans-to-name-stanley-fischer-as-vice-chairman-of-the-fed/2013/12/11/

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