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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘NBN’

Strong Starts: Academic and Professional Opps for Young Olim

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Getting tension headaches at the thought of financing a degree? Wondering how to use a degree you’ve already earned that doesn’t reflect your actual job skills? More and more students and young professionals are thinking Israel and tasting success.

It’s no news that U.S. tuition costs have skyrocketed. According to Forbes.com, the college education inflation rate has gone up almost 500% since 1985. The current recession hasn’t helped either. Young people are searching for a better life and finding it in Israel. In 2012, 1,577 young professionals and students made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh. This represents a 13% increase since 2009, and the 2013 stats are expected to be even higher. Nefesh B’Nefesh is following the trend and provide the resources, assistance and guidance that is helping this increasing number of Jews ages 18-35 to consider their options and build their future in the Jewish homeland.

“We’ve got a bumper crop of young people making Aliyah,” reports Marc Rosenberg, Director of Pre-Aliyah Counseling at Nefesh B’Nefesh. Rosenberg cites the Birthright and Masa programs, plus a greater tendency towards taking off a gap year to do a Young Judaea or yeshivah program, as possible causes.“Israel is a dynamic place with a Jewish majority,” he reflects. “You can live a life of meaning here and your sense of identity won’t be challenged the way it can be living in the Diaspora. In addition, college grads can get master’s degrees here without putting themselves into $100,000 debt, and they’ll find jobs.”

Seattle-native Tali Gourarie, 27, made the move to Israel and is enjoying the warmth of her new life in sunny Tel Aviv, and her Israeli Masters degree. Gourarie grew up with a strong Jewish identity and was active in Young Judaea both as a camper and as a member of the leadership board. Gourarie made Aliyah in February 2008, a year after graduating college, and enrolled in a Political Science Master’s Program at HebrewUniversity two and a half years later. Why? One reason was that she could afford to do it. As part of the immigrant rights package, the government offers tuition-free undergraduate and graduate degrees to newcomers who meet the following criteria: Enrollment in a recognized Hebrew-language academic program within three years of Aliyah, by immigrants under age 27 for undergraduate study and age 30 for graduate school. “I was allowed to hand in all my papers in English,” she explains. “And whenever we had Hebrew reading assignments they gave me alternative material. They were never making exceptions just for me,” Gourarie is quick to point out. “One third of my class were English speakers.”

Can young Olim who don’t have a knack for languages also save themselves tens of thousands of dollars in tuition? Yes, within certain limitations. There are at least ten private institutions offering studies entirely in English. Olim can take the approximately $3,000 of tuition money that the government would have paid for a public Hebrew program, and use it towards private school tuition, which ranges from $6,000 – $25,000 per year. The wide range of degrees on offer include: Creative Writing, Jewish Education Leadership, and Computer Science.

Whether you study in Hebrew or in English, getting your degree in Israel can save you time, money, and help you build up a professional network before you’ve even stepped foot outside the classroom. To maximize the benefits, Gourarie urges Olim students to do volunteering, internships or jobs related to their degree. Unlike the North-American set-up where high school graduates often spend four years sampling liberal arts before settling upon a professional direction, Israelis head there from day one. Law school is an undergraduate degree and even medical school begins then, saving future doctors four years of tuition and time. “Another incentive was that here most people in Master’s programs work full-time. The studies are not as intensive as in the U.S.,” she observes. Gourarie even got to study in Austria for free simply because she was a (newly-minted) Israeli citizen. “Lots of European organizations run free or subsidized study programs in conjunction with Israeli universities that are specifically for Israeli students.”

“Israelis attend university to train for professions and are therefore very focused in their studies,” says Rosenberg. “Most have already done the army, so they’re older and very driven. That’s the mentality here and it’s very vibrant. Definitely worth exploring.” The market value of an Israeli degree is also a factor to consider. “Academic inflation, where a person needs higher and higher degrees to get a job, hasn’t hit Israel yet,” Rosenberg comments. “For example, someone with a Bachelor’s in social work can accomplish a lot here, without having a Master’s degree.”

Not surprisingly Israeli employers share the pragmatic mindset of Israeli academia. More important than where you went to school or which degree hangs on your wall is whether you have the skills and the experience to do the job. “It’s a skill-based economy,” Rosenberg explains. “So if you have knowledge of databases and SEO, employers don’t care if you studied English Literature in college. They’re looking for skills and for personality.”

Yehuda Kohn is one of the many young professionals whose success gives the NBN staff much pride. This past August, Kohn came on Aliyah from Bergenfield, N.J. with his wife Naomi and their four young children. Despite having a highly specific profession (wine distribution) and moving to Israel without a job in hand, Kohn and family have found their place in Israel and are all thriving. How did everything fall into place?

 

Prior to Aliyah, Kohn, 31, was a regional manager for out-of-state wine markets. The Kohns were members of a vibrant Jewish community but they dreamed of coming on Aliyah. “It was a Catch-22 situation,” Kohn explains. “I wanted a new job in Israel but my job in the States was so unique that if I had tried to look for work my boss would have heard about it, and I wasn’t ready to leave yet.” After a few one-on-one meetings and group information sessions with NBN staff, he developed a game plan. “We finally decided that if we wanted this, we needed to set an Aliyah date and work towards it. We gave ourselves a year and a half, ample time for getting passports, selling our home, settling business, packing, and networking in whatever ways I could. Mentally, setting a date got us psyched up and able to prepare properly.”

On the professional front, Kohn had two full-time job offers on the table a month after his arrival.  He is now the export manager at Tabor Winery, responsible for directing all international business, and attributes his job search success to an Israeli in the food industry who he met once at a trade show in the U.S. They stayed in touch, and ultimately that Israeli recommended him for the position.

 

Kohn has tips for young people who are still in the wishing phase. “Aliyah means leaving your comfort zone in one way or another, so you need to come with an open mind. It could mean living in a different kind of community or working in a different segment of your profession, but different doesn’t mean bad. If this is your dream and you have the opportunity to do it at a young age, you’re giving your family the biggest gift you could ever give them. So many people want to come but life gets in the way, or it seems scary so they push it off. When you commit and build towards it, Aliyah is definitely a feasible goal.”

This year’s bumper crop of young Olim couldn’t agree more.

Explore your career in Israel, for more information click here.

March 31 and Dona Gracia

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

At first glance, March 31 is not a day that particularly stands out in Jewish memory, but it is actually a day of significance.

In 1492, the Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion) was signed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which led to the expulsion of all Jews from Spain 3 months later on Tisha B’Av 1492.

Some Jews at the time also went into hiding as Crypto-Jews (Conversos). Many went to Portugal, which welcomed Jews in.

Two such Converso families were the Nasi (de Luna) and Benveniste (Mendes) families who eventually joined together in marriage.

In the 1500′s Dona Gracia (Hanna Nasi) took over her husband’s (Francisco Mendes) spice business after his death, building it up, and ending up becoming one of the richest Jewish women in Renaissance Europe.

But what stands out most about Dona Gracia is that she bought the entire city of Tiberias from the Sultan.

She began to rebuild the city, and invited the Jews of Europe to go to Tiberias, where she would give them start-up funds and land, in the hope that the Jews of Europe could finally come back to their home in the Holy Land, and find refuge from unfriendly Europe. Unfortunately, it appears that very few people took her up on her pre-Nefesh B’Nefesh offer.

Dona Gracia herself never visited Israel.

Today there is a Dona Gracia museum in her honor, located in Tiberias.

The Real Deal: Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Mega Events

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Ready to hear the truth about life in Israel? Thousands of Aliyah-minded Jews in Canada and the U.S. are gearing up to hear the inside story first hand. From March 3rd through the 10th, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in conjunction with The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA and Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption will be holding Aliyah Mega Events and Fairs in New York, Baltimore, Washington, Miami, Toronto and Montreal. These programs offer seminars, workshops, personal consultations and networking opportunities. With sessions about higher education for students, job hunting for those already in the workforce and golden year tips for retirees, these mega events are for everyone who wants to hear it like it really is.

Curious about the employment scene for new Olim? Interested in what Israel’s socialized health care system can offer? Eager to buy or rent a home the smart way? Wondering how to find the community that’s right for you? Hoping to meet and network with other people who love Israel as much as you do? This is an opportunity to get real answers, from the NBN seminar staff, representatives from Israel government ministries, health fund representatives and even shippers.

Over 50,000 North American and British Jews have already attended Nefesh B’Nefesh pre-Aliyah seminars. In this era of online research, why are thousands of people still coming to get information in person? “One of the great opportunities at the Aliyah fairs is networking with a large, diverse group of people. You can connect with other Aliyah-minded members of your own community in real time and in person” reflects Marc Rosenberg, Director of the Pre-Aliyah Department at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “You need to meet people, bounce ideas off them, ask questions and test out your fears. These events are intended to be the culmination of the research you’ve been doing till now. We have staff who will be able to address your specific questions and help you build a concrete Aliyah plan. We can propel you forward, by raising your confidence in your ability to make Aliyah, ” he added.

What then, is the most crucial type of confidence-building pre-Aliyah preparation? “It’s really about employment and community,” Rosenberg maintains. “When people come to me, they’re not worried about how they’ll manage if they get all the Jewish holidays off from work in Israel, and they’re not asking how’s the weather. They’re already into the idea of Aliyah and they’ve already visited Israel. What they really want to find out now, is can they make a living here and will they like the schools and the neighbors. These fairs help people develop realistic expectations.” The synthesis of realism and idealism, what these mega events offer is clearly a successful recipe; 97% of all Nefesh B’Nefesh Olim remain in Israel. They knew what to expect and were able to make a smooth homecoming.

“For me personally, coming as a single person with only a few suitcases, the job search information was what I needed most,” new Olah Miriam Anne Gold recalls. A Manhattan native, Gold attended the New York Aliyah mega event last winter and made a quick decision. Nine weeks ago she made Jerusalem her new home. Originally a recruiter for a non-profit, who did professional organizing on the side, Gold is now in the process of making her sideline her main focus, as she launches her own professional organizing business. Has Gold been able to navigate the system and find her way so far? “You know you always hear about Israeli bureaucracy, but I’ve had a great experience with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. They’re so warm and positive towards new olim, and they have extensive knowledge.”

So is gathering accurate information the key to making a smooth adjustment to life in Israel? Or is it mostly a matter of who you know? Does it depend on having the right attitude? According to Rosenberg, successful Olim have three vital skills: Networking abilities, Hebrew and flexibility. But what does having flexibility mean? Do all Olim reinvent themselves? “You can reinvent yourself, but not your skills,” Rosenberg clarifies, “so you may need to be flexible and use your same skills in a different setting.” Rosenberg himself has done just that, by applying the skills he acquired from his Master of Education degree to the educational initiatives he now runs, not in a school, but at a non-profit.

Was any aspect of Aliyah tough for this pre-Aliyah educator? “The two hardest parts are being away from family, and not having Sundays. My family would call on a Sunday and I’d be at work.” Maybe this year they’ll all attend the Aliyah mega in their area and then he won’t have to miss them much longer.

To see the full schedule of the upcoming Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah Mega Events click here.

Next Year in Jerusalem: Obama Wins Second Term

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

It’s been said that if Obama wins, that would be a big push for Aliyah.

I’m not sure how that works out considering the fact that 70% of Jews who voted, voted for Obama. I guess it’s that 30% that might be considering their options.

And how timely is that!

Nefesh B’Nefesh is going to be working overtime this winter.

If you were thinking about Aliyah, and now considering it more seriously, talk to NBN now to ensure you can get a seat on that plane.

So, if “Change” has morphed into “Forward,” let “Forward” morph into “Eastbound.” It’s time to come home.

Tell them Jameel sent you.

 

 

[Editor's Note: 60%-40% was updated to 70%-30% based on the latest exit polls of Jewish voters.]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/next-year-in-jerusalem-obama-wins-second-term/2012/11/07/

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