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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘aliyah’

‘The IRS Wants YOU’ and Israel Is Going to Help Them

Monday, March 10th, 2014

A mini “economic social” cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, soon will approve an agreement to share information on accounts of U.S. citizens with the Internal Revenue Service, sources told the Globes business newspaper.

The newspaper said the proposal will allow the IRS full access on Americans’ accounts in Israeli banks and other financial institutions.

The U.S. government is preparing to sign agreements with other countries as well, but Israel is high on its “hit list,” partly because Swiss banks have accounts in three Israeli banks. Switzerland is no longer a safe place for foreigners to hide their money from the tax man, and so Israel has become a favorite home for money launderers and tax evaders.

The Israel Tax Authority is expecting increased revenues if the measure is approved. “The agreement will include an option under which, subject to certain conditions, information will be sent from the U.S. tax authorities to the Israeli tax authorities about the income of Israeli residents in the U.S.,” the document states.

However, while all information on American accounts in Israel will be sent to the IRS, Israel will receive data only in special cases.

The proposed agreement contained clauses aimed at protecting individuals from the IRS misusing personal information, but it is not clear if the IRS has learned its lessons from recent scandals, such as hunting down those nasty pro-Israel groups, as reported here.

Big Brother in Israel also is waiting on deck.

Attorney Yael Grossman, an expert in money laundering, told Globes, “The decision paves the way for further harm to the separation between the management of money by a bank and disclosure to Income Tax. Although at the moment, the measure helps the banks and saves them the need to work directly with the IRS, but experience shows that it will later expose all of the public’s banking activities to the Israel Tax Authority.

“This will be the final burial of banking confidentiality on one hand and a signal for the strengthening and prosperity of alternative institutions, which will rush to offer alternative instruments to the public.”

Americans living in Israel have an alternative to leaving their tax records and financial activities accessible by your closest friendly IRS clerk. They can simply void their American citizenship, a growing trend that was reported here in December.

Approximately 3,000 did so in 2013, three times the number in 2012. That means the IRS cannot snoop on them, but it also means they lose their right to vote in American elections, assuming it would be worth voting.

Americans in Beit Shemesh Present the Better Side of Haredim

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Amid the buzz surrounding issues of religious-secular tension—such as proposed Israeli legislation to mandate Haredi enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and a recent rally where hundreds of thousands of people protested the bill—Haredi entrepreneurship in the Jewish state doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.

Critics lament the lack of Haredi integration into both the military and the Israeli workforce, but  Beit Shemesh, located 20 miles west of Jerusalem with a population of 100,000 people, is home to innovators like Rabbi Joel Padowitz, whose ventures have a direct relationship with the Haredi community.

Padowitz, 36, is co-creator of what he believes is a “game-changing” product for Israeli tourism and business called the “Israel App.” Originally from San Diego, Padowitz made aliyah in 2009 and lives in Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children. He teaches Mishnah every day at a men’s kollel in Beit Shemesh, is an avid mountain biker, and is the founder of a Manhattan-based investment bank. He has rabbinical ordination and an MBA from Bar-Ilan University, and he now is now pursuing a BA in social science from Harvard University.

The co-founder and manager of the Israel App is equally eclectic 28-year-old Yaakov Lehman, formerly from Tucson, Ariz., who is married with a newborn child. A part-time rabbinic student and part-time social entrepreneur, he has a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in global studies, an MA from the London School of Economics in economic history, and an MA from the University of Vienna in world history. He came to Israel in 2008.

“The reason I founded the Israel App is because people come to Israel and do not get a legitimate or even meaningful presentation of this incredible country,” Padowitz tells JNS.org. “We cater to the majority of tourists who don’t hire human tour guides. We want to give them a way to appreciate more deeply all that Israel has to offer.”

The Israel App, which currently has about 6,000 users, contains GPS-guided tours for any tourist who needs to find sites or hotels or restaurants, a virtual concierge for making reservations, coupons, and background content like an “Israepedia,” a glossary covering a wide variety of historical information. Tourists can use the app without roaming charges as they travel around the country.

When Padowitz and Lehman initiated their project, they began looking for a programming team. They happened upon NetSource and its subsidiary, Concept Creative Technology, a service provider of software development. “We liked the service, the price, and their work environment,” says Lehman.

NetSource’s 48-year-old CEO, Mazal Shirem, is a divorced mother of three who grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, where she lived until the age of 20. After 16 years with Intel and a stint in Munich, Germany, she found a business partner for her new venture whose mission “was to get Orthodox people into the employment market and give them the tools they need to learn the work environment.”

NetSource was launched in 2010 and today employs 200 people—90 percent Haredi women and 5 percent Haredi men—almost all living in Beit Shemesh. According to Shirem, the company operates so that the employees “receive the full respect of their lifestyle, including the on-site kosher kitchen, flexible work hours, and even proper subjects on which they work.”

Tamar, a 26-year-old Haredi mother of a two toddlers, is consulting with Shirem in her office. She started work there a year and a half ago as a secretary and worked her way up to an account manager.

“I really like to work here,” she says. “The girls are very nice and it’s convenient for me to work in this company because I find all the conditions which I need in order for me to go out and do my job in an appropriate environment.”

1000+ Pack NBN Aliyah Fair in Times Square

Monday, March 10th, 2014

More than 1,000 Jews and Israelis from across the Tri-State area jammed the Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Mega event in Times Square on Sunday as part of a week of Aliyah Fairs in seven major cities across North America. Organizing the events in conjunction with Nefesh B’Nefesh are Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

The event also focused on providing information about the ‘Go North’ and ‘Go South’ Programs, which help potential immigrants learn about living in Israel’s periphery, with the collaboration of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA. Among the speakers were JNF CEO Russell Robinson; KKL Vice Chairman Menachem Leibovic; and Jewish Agency Director of Aliyah and Absorption Yehuda Scharf.

“It has been incredibly humbling and inspiring to see thousands of Jews gather in New York today as well as throughout North America this past week, who are seriously considering making Aliyah to Israel,” Nefesh B’Nefesh Founder and Chairman Tony Gelbart told the participants. “We put special emphasis this year on providing participants with detailed information about moving to the Negev and Galil – to us this is Zionism of special significance.”

In addition to New York City, the Aliyah Fairs are taking place in Toronto, Montreal, Florida, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles between March 2 and 10. The events incorporate Aliyah-related seminars and workshops, and personal consultations with staff from The Jewish Agency for Israel, Tzofim Garin Tzabar and Nefesh B’Nefesh. Representatives from various Israeli municipalities, high schools and universities, MATI business development for entrepreneurs, real estate developers and agents, financial consultants, insurance agents and shippers are also consulting with participants.

Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Absorption MK Sofa Landver addressed the New York event as well. “It’s important to encourage you in this moment, when you are about to take a major step that will change your entire life – Aliyah to Israel. As a former Olah myself, I know it’s not easy. But we will be there for you, to support you and ensure your absorption into Israel society will be the best it can be.”

Participants will benefit from workshops and seminars on various topics such as: Careers in Israel, Financial Planning, Taxes & Budgeting, The Israeli Healthcare System, Introduction to the Aliyah Process, Aliyah Rights and Benefits. In addition, representatives of The Jewish Agency for Israel will speak about the process for verifying Aliyah eligibility and the various programs it offers to assist immigrants in their transition to Israeli life.

To date, Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted over 38,000 Olim. More than 50,000 North American and British Jews have attended Nefesh B’Nefesh pre-Aliyah informational seminars throughout the US, Canada and UK, including specially tailored programs, events and individual counseling sessions. For a full schedule of these Aliyah fairs, please visit www.nbn.org.il/mega.

About Nefesh B’Nefesh:
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. To date, Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted over 38,000 newcomers to Israel.

100 Ukrainian Jews Want to Make Aliyah, Settle in Judea and Samaria

Friday, March 7th, 2014

One hundred Jews from Kiev want to make Aliyah as a “gar’in” (a unified fledgling community), according to a report in Makor Rishon. They come from all over Kiev. All of them are young professionals, including doctors, lawyers, accountants and advertising executives.

Michael Rosenfeld, an emissary for “Hamidrasha Hatziyonut” (Zionist School) told Makor Rishon that he had been approached by a hundred Ukrainian Jews from Kiev who want to immigrate to Israel. There are 20 families on the list so far, as well as a number of singles. They want to make Aliyah together, and live together in Israel in the same community.

They already decided they want to move to a town in either Judea or Samaria.

Rosenfeld said that these are people who always spoke about Aliyah, but now the situation in Kiev is giving them that extra push.

Rosenfeld’s Midrasha is now opening an Ulpan course, to prepare the group with the language skills they’ll need when they arrive in Israel.

Rosenfeld is calling on the Israeli government, and Moetzet Yesha (The Council of Judea and Samaria) to assist them in the Aliyah process.

Simultaneously, others in the Kiev community are trying to raise money for security for the Jews of Ukraine, in response to the anarchy in the streets. According to a JTA report Thursday, the Jewish Federations of North America has launched a Ukraine Assistance Fund.

“As the situation escalates, needs in the Ukrainian Jewish community become even more acute,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations’ board of trustees.

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, one of the two chief Rabbis of Ukraine, told John Kerry in a meeting this week that it costs $1000 a day to ensure the security of his Yeshiva, and that to provide protection for all the Jewish organizations would cost $4000 a day.

An estimated 70,000 Jews live in the Ukraine.

Now, imagine if they all moved to Judea and Samaria.

All it takes is a single “gar’in”.

 

Record Number of US Dentists Planning Aliyah

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

An unprecedented number of 20 dentists from around the United States who are planning to make Aliyah to Israel took the Israeli Dentistry Licensing Exam, at the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices in Paramus, New Jersey, this week.

This is the largest group ever to take the test outside Israel.

Dentists who immigrate to Israel must pass the Dentistry Licensing Examination given by the Ministry of Health’s Dentistry Department in order to practice in Israel. The test has two parts – theoretical and practical – and takes place twice a year in various languages.

Israel’s Ministry of Health agreed to give the dentists  the opportunity to take the first theoretical exam in the United States to help expedite the process of obtaining an Israeli license and make the process easier for them. The dentists still have to complete the practical part of the exam when they arrive in Israel, and that part of the exam must be taken within three years of taking the theoretical exam.

“I think it’s an amazing thing to be able to have the opportunity to take the Israeli Government’s Dentistry Licensing Exam while I am still in the U.S.,” said Debbie Goldschmiedt of New York City, one of the dentists who took the exam today. “This new option is saving a lot of waiting time and energy, and more importantly, it will enable me to start working as a dentist and earn a living in Israel shortly after my Aliyah.”

With Olive Oil, Olim Spread the Light of Torah

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Two olim are taking charge to revitalize one of Israel’s oldest agricultural areas. Combining tzedakah and environmentalism, Nili Abrahams and Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, through their new organization, Shemen LaMeor, are harvesting olives that would otherwise be wasted, creating pure oil to raise money for yeshivas, schools, and food programs for needy families in their community, Yavne’el, and throughout the Lower Galilee.

From the Torah, the phrase “shemen lameor” means “oil that illuminates.” “The whole purpose,” says Abrahams, “is to use the oil to spread light… and light is Torah.”

To highlight the importance of trees, the pair, along with local rabbis and other community members, unveiled the organization this past Tu b’Shvat. The organization will use the area’s surplus olives and boutique kosher olive oil to build relationships within and beyond Israel.

They are also raising awareness about the increasingly dire situation in the region. The Lower Galilee, two hours from Jerusalem, had strong agricultural origins, which still attract many olim. “People love the idea of connection with the land,” says Abrahams, “of a safe haven for the children… a very simple lifestyle.” Yet that agricultural way of life is threatened by many forces.

Twenty minutes from Tiberias, Yavne’el, home to 3,000 residents, “had an incredible heyday of agriculture: tobacco, date palms, olives, citrus,” says Abrahams.

But the older generation of farmers can’t maintain their fields. And, she says, “if farmers can’t afford to keep up their farms… there is a significant number of Arabs waiting to buy up the land.”

According to the latest Israeli Census Bureau statistics, for 2011, the Arab population in northern Israel (not including Haifa) is just over 53 per cent, while Jews make up just under 44 per cent.

The Israeli government and organizations like Nefesh b’Nefesh have been battling to rebuild the Jewish presence in the region since the 1980s. In Dec. 2013, the World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division announced its intention to build two new towns for 100,000 Jewish residents. At the time, MK Hanna Swaid criticized the move as part of a “demographic war” that is meaningless without “infrastructure improvements and a reduction in the… employment gaps.”

Idyllic in some ways, life in the Lower Galilee can be devastating for families. “Most of the men aren’t home for the week, just for Shabbat. Some travel to Jerusalem, some travel to Bnei Brak… to work, and then come home for Shabbat,” says Abrahams, who has run a bed and breakfast with her husband Arnie since making aliyah to the area from Toronto, Canada two and a half years ago.


Shemen LaMeor will create jobs and reinvigorate the region’s agriculture while preserving its unique character. “Kids here know how to plant, herd sheep, ride horses,” Abrahams says. “They really have a very good feel for the land; they know how to lead a simple life.”

Rabbi Veffer, creator of the KosherLamp, which has changed late-night Shabbat reading for religious families around the world, was Associate Rabbi of Toronto’s The Village Shul Aish HaTorah Learning Centre before returning to Israel nearly four years ago.

Abrahams says they both wanted to help out by tapping into local resources that would otherwise be wasted. “A lot of the olive trees are actually abandoned, not picked, nothing’s done with them.”

“The area is blessed with abundance,” she says. “Everyone’s got citrus and passionfruit and everyone’s got olives… We’re reclaiming the land, reclaiming the olives.”

Rich in Jewish history, the area around Yavne’el is where, according to the Book of Judges, the warrior Deborah led her battle against Canaanite general Sisera. It’s also the site of the Golani tree, the oak tree symbolizing the legendary IDF brigade. Nearby Tiberias is considered the fourth-holiest city in Judaism, where the Jerusalem Talmud was written and the great teacher Maimonides buried.

Shemen LaMeor has built relationships with farmers to secure 1500 dunam (1.5 square kilometres) of land to prepare for its first picking season this fall. They will compensate some farmers with a tax receipt, others with a percentage of the oil for personal use or resale.

Abrahams says the organization welcomes volunteers, seminary and yeshiva students, and other willing groups, who will donate their labour for a morning or afternoon and learn how olives are picked and processed into one of Israel’s purest, most ancient bounties. “We’ll press the oil for them on the spot… it’ll be a great part of their visit to the north.”

Together, they hope to extend the Jewish world’s appreciation for Israel in its entirety. “I see this as a way of going beyond Jerusalem,” says Abrahams. “Every single part of Israel is vital… to our existence.”

“The abundance here is God-given. We don’t want to waste that… so we’re using the abundance for ohr, to spread the light of Torah around the world.” For more information about Shemen LaMeor, visit shemenlameor.org.

Government Says Aliyah Stats from US Better than Previously Stated

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Official statistics on aliyah to Israel from the United States have been corrected to show that there was only a tiny change for the worse in the past year from the number of new immigrants in 2012.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency issued a report in late December that aliyah from the United States and Canada was 11 percent less than in the previous year. Figures for the United States include new immigrants from Mexico as well as Canada.

“Empirical data actually shows that the aliyah figures from North America in 2013 remained almost the same as 2012,” according to an official statement.

There were 3,504 immigrants to Israel from North America in 2013, 53 less than in 2012.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/government-says-aliyah-stats-from-us-better-than-previously-stated/2014/02/19/

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