Hey American Olim — Remember the phrase, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition”?
Well, no one expects to be questioned at the US border when flying to the US for a simcha or visit…by the IRS, about back taxes.
This month’s, “Journal of Accountancy” has a rather scary article about this very issue. First and last paragraphs are the key:
Taxpayers traveling to the United States with unpaid U.S. tax assessments can be detained at the border, questioned, and flagged for follow-up enforcement. If a taxpayer has an unpaid tax liability and is subject to a resulting Notice of Federal Tax Lien, the IRS may submit identifying taxpayer information to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), a database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The database allows the DHS to identify taxpayers with unpaid tax assessments who are traveling to the United States (Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), §22.214.171.124).
A taxpayer who resides outside the United States may not be aware of outstanding federal tax liabilities if the address on record for the taxpayer is outdated or otherwise incorrect. Consequently, tax advisers with clients who reside outside the United States should ensure that the correct address for the taxpayer is used on the client’s returns and, if the client no longer is required to file U.S. returns, that the IRS still is able to contact the taxpayer about previously filed returns. Taxpayers should be advised that a failure to keep the IRS apprised of a change in mailing address may result in an unwelcome—and potentially embarrassing—surprise when the taxpayer seeks to enter the United States.
This could apply even if you DON’T owe money, but the IRS thinks you owe money, audited you (without your knowledge if they couldn’t contact you), and then…while trying to visit…
So, make sure you file regularly, and make sure they have an address listed for you, which will actually reach you.
Remember the IRS motto: “We’re not happy, till you’re not happy…”
For Israel’s Anglo olim (immigrants), the name Givat Shmuel conjures up a marriage scene to rival that of New York’s Stern College for Women. Home to hundreds of young English-speakers studying at the adjacent Bar-Ilan University, Givat Shmuel has produced a vibrant, growing community of overseas students – and a reputation for their enthusiastic coupling. Each year, the community watches as many new couples are formed, engagements are announced and weddings are celebrated.
While the events vary according to the couple’s religious, financial and other needs, the one common denominator among most Givat Shmuel weddings is that they were planned by students without immediate family in the country.
“You get so overwhelmed planning a wedding all by yourself, while simultaneously studying for a degree and trying to have a life,” explained newlywed Elizabeth G, 21. “You end up obsessing over every detail, from invitations to centerpieces, and then suddenly realize – Oh, no! We forgot to order food for the wedding!”
Elizabeth, who moved to Israel three years ago from Detroit and is currently pursuing a degree at Bar-Ilan, recounted the hardships of tackling the preparations process alone. “If your family is living in another country, planning a wedding will actually start before you’re even engaged,” she explained. “Because your family and in-laws-to-be will need time to buy plane tickets and make other accommodations, you’ll need to coordinate everything with them, starting with when is the best time to get engaged.
“The hardest part is definitely communicating and trying to coordinate everyone’s wishes,” she continued. “Suddenly you have two sets of parents and all of their opinions need to be taken into account.”
Even with modern innovations like e-mail and Skype, Elizabeth confided, the distance and time zone can make even small details hard to communicate. “Something that seems trivial to you – like what songs will be playing under the chupah – can mean the world to your mother, but because you can’t be in constant contact it might just fall through the cracks.”
For Givat Shmuel’s olim, planning a wedding becomes a community project. If the young couple is without a car they’ll need to depend on friends and extended family for rides, especially when hunting for a wedding hall. Anglos with less-than-perfect Hebrew will need help understanding, and negotiating, prices for everything from photographers and floral arrangements to filing for a marriage license. And while parents may try to be as helpful as possible from abroad, they are just as unfamiliar with the system here as their children may be.
“Planning a wedding in Israel is much different than planning one in the States,” says veteran wedding planner Ann Roseman. “Here, everything is up for negotiation. A lot of times a vendor will tell an Anglo family that their requests can’t be met. But in Israel, just because someone says no that doesn’t it can’t be done.”
Roseman, a native of Toronto with fifteen years of experience in the business, sees herself as a bridge between her North American customers and the Israeli market. From organizing travel arrangements to personally translating all Hebrew contracts into English for the families so that they fully understand what they are paying for, Roseman helps young couples cut through the jungle of paperwork and negotiations.
“I act as the families’ eyes and ears and ensure constant interaction between all parties. It’s tremendous zechus(honor) for me to help these couples marry in Israel and I tend to every part of the organizing,” Roseman explained. “Well, almost every part – I don’t shlep the liqueur bottles.”
From the wedding of Chava Forman-Horovitz
Even with the best of planning, olim weddings can remain complicated. For Chava Forman-Horovitz, 25, it wasn’t the organization that was difficult. Lucky enough to get her hands on a comprehensive list of vendors put together by a friend, the Philadelphia native developed it into a spreadsheet, adding in additional vendors recommended by others. Married for seven months now, Horovitz eagerly shares her mini database with engaged friends in need.
“I’ve attended enough Anglo-Israeli weddings to not stress out about the planning process,” she confessed. “What was really difficult was not having my grandmothers at my wedding. Not being part of the whole experience was difficult for them too.” Her family kept a live feed going throughout the event so that her grandmothers, who were unable to travel to Israel for the wedding due to health considerations, could take part in the celebration.
Elizabeth agrees, recalling how she asked her seamstress to snap pictures of her wearing her wedding dress every time an alteration, no matter how minor, was made. “I’d send them to my mother. It was my way of having her there with me the whole time.”
“Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say”, an English-speaking Israeli meme of the popular Youtube video Sh*t Girls Say”, earned 57,000 views in two days, taking comedic aim at the life of the average young English-speaking immigrant to Israel.
With such typical oleh quips as “I’m going to the post office, I’ll be back in 4 hours,” “You’re going back to the States? Oh, can you bring me back some NyQuil?” and “You have last year’s Cosmo? Can I borrow it?” the film poked fun at the frustration, confusion, and occasional desperation of Israelis harkening from the US, Canada, England and Australia.
The video is the brainchild of Shira Rottner and Yosef Adest, a freelance video producer and photographer who made aliyah in 2003 from New York. A self-proclaimed optimist, Adest – who is now 31, single, and living in Tel Aviv – says that while his video is a critique of Israeli society, it was also a labor of love.
“The whole video is a stab at Israel and Israelis,” Adest told The Jewish Press. “It’s about what is wrong with this place, but looking at it and smiling at it. We laughed the whole time we were making it.”
The video centered around the characters’ struggle to adapt to a sometimes brusque and foreign-seeming Israeli culture while remaining within the safe and familiar environment of the Anglo community, with its recognizable products and comforts. “What we joke about in the video is all true, it’s all fact,” Adest said. “It’s not a reason that Israel is bad or challenging, it’s just how Israel is.” The key, he said, is attitude. “I feel great that I’m in a place now that I can say no, I’m not an Israeli and I’ll never be, but I completely feel like I fit in and I can call this place my home.”
“We grew up with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – we’ll always be different,” he joked.
Yet while Anglo Israelis frequently feel themselves to be apart from native Israeli culture, they can also grow to feel that they no longer relate to the culture of their past, either. “I was in America, and people were getting in line to get on the bus, and I was like ‘really? You need a whole line? Here, let me help you with your baby’. I really felt like a foreigner,” Adest said. “And that’s crazy! I’m not an Israeli, but I’m no longer American. I’m in the middle.”
Young and old, recent and veteran immigrants to Israel posted comments and kudos on Youtube and Facebook commiserating and laughing with the cast and crew. Some commenters expressed sheepish surprise at how much the stereotypical immigrants sounded like them, while others shared their joy at being able to identify with the comical trials and tribulations of the actors.
At one point, one of the characters said “I hate it here”, which Adest said is something he has heard some immigrants say. “Myself and everyone involved, we all love Israel, but we included that statement because people really say that,” Adest said. “But I think at the same time, most people who grow frustrated with the challenges love it. I think you can get to a point where you can really appreciate it all. We can make fun of it without harming the integrity of our love for this place as our home.” Incidentally, the character expressing her frustration with life in Israel was immediately answered by a friend saying, “Oh, I love it here”.
As for himself, Adest made Israel home for different reasons than the ones he loves Israel for today. “When I made aliyah, I came for very spiritual reasons, but I’ve actually come to love the Israeli culture, the Israeli mindset as well, completely separate from the religious and spiritual significance of the place,” he said. “I think that’s when you can completely be absorbed here, when you can appreciate the whole gamut.”
JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher expressed pride in Adest’s accomplishment. ”I first met Yosef Adest at Jerusalem II pizza in Manhattan when I was hosting a pro-aliyah event. Later, I greeted him as he got off the Nefesh b’Nefesh plane on aliyah,” Fleisher said. ”It was obvious then that here was a young man who was coming to Israel with great ideological passion and a tremendous love of the land and the Jewish people, and since aliyah, he has put his talents to good use. This video is entertaining, but it also shows the normalization of aliyah in American Jewish life and is a stepping stone in the process of the ingathering of North American Jewry to Israel.”
Yishai Fleisher and Yosef Adest have produced two films together – one about the mass priestly blessing which happpens at the festivals in Jerusalem, and one humorous short about shaking the lulav and etrog on Sukkot.
For more videos by Yosef Adest, visit www.yosefadest.com
It’s difficult to assess whether this entire issue might not be purely hypothetical, but as it turns out from a Yoav Zitun story in Ynet this week, The IDF now demands that new candidates for service in Israel’s submarine force waive their foreign citizenship in order to join.
We have no way of knowing just how many young men and women with hard-to-give-up American, British, or French citizenship (to name a few) are standing in line at the IDF recruitment offices, eager to spend their service near the bottom of the sea. But if they do, they will have to think long and hard about the price they’ll have to pay.
Apparently, Israel’s underwater fleet joined a few other elite combat units requiring that young warrior wannabes give up their former citizenship to join them. One could surmise from this demand that as long as a young recruit continues to carry his other passport in his shirt pocket, he can’t be trusted with the country’s highest levels of security clearance.
The criteria for receiving an IDF security clearance are decided by the units themselves, by the Shin Bet (Internal Security) and by the National Security Council, based on the level of exposure to classified materials during one’s service.
And so, submarine service recruits who are olim or the children of olim receive a notification stating that in order to qualify for the year-long training, as part of their security screening, they must renounce their foreign citizenship.
But here’s a catch: if a recruit went ahead and gave up his other citizenship, and then was dropped from the training course, he can never get his original citizenship back. Now, that’s a heartfelt show of patriotism!
The IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that “for information security purposes, soldiers serving in certain IDF units are required to meet strict criteria.”
According to Zitun, the recent move raised strong opposition among fleet reserve officers, who claim that the new decree will limit the number of volunteers clamoring to join the unit.
One former officer did not think the issue was hypothetical at all. “This is absurd. Many excellent recruits hold a dual citizenship but wish to serve in an elite unit such as the submarine fleet,” he told Zitun. “In a country that fights for every recruit, especially for elite units, this demand should not be made. Soldiers serve for only a few years, and must not pay by losing their foreign citizenship that can be used later in life.”
The Jewish Press sent an inquiry to the IDF Spokesman’s office, echoing the same concern, and received this response: “The IDF has numerous criteria it uses in order to efficiently place soldiers in optimal positions. Since its establishment, the IDF has done everything in its power to function as a melting pot, allowing the integration of immigrants from all walks of life. The number of drafted immigrants has climbed annually to thousands in 2010 alone.”
Not highly specific, but we catch their drift. It’s not easy taking in young folks from all over the globe and turning them into soldiers. You want to be an immigrant and a hero? It’ll cost you…
This is the 10th part of a series on Aliyah and Klita (absorption) stories of American Jews who came to Israel for ideological and religious reasons in the past years.
It is often hard to understand the attitude of American Orthodox Jews to Israel. How is it possible that they do not live in Israel? Every experience in Israel is a religious experience for a religious Jew. When we walk the streets of Beersheva, we may be traversing the same space where Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu walked, or where Yitzchak or Rivka walked.
The Kotel (Western Wall) is less than one or two hours away from nearly any point in Israel. We can pray where King David or King Solomon prayed, and we sometimes can feel the presence of the prophets of old.
With airfares so low and entrance into Israel open to every Jew, why are there still so many Jewish religious communities all over the world?
Laibel and Debby Lipnick came to Israel in 1966 as part of a garin, a nucleus of friends who came to Israel to settle on a kibbutz. The garin acted as a support framework to ensure that all the members would remain in Israel, and they did all remain. The group came from New York, Baltimore, and Chicago, eleven couples and three singles, and they all settled in Kibbutz Lavi. All the men have served in the army, and so have many of their children. All are productive in various fields.
Laibel, Debby and their fellow garin members came to Israel to do what was needed to build up the country. None of them was running away from anything, and none of them was a burden, living off their parents. They were all college graduates with a wide spectrum of careers.
In Israel, many had to be retrained to fit the jobs that were needed. They were not like many modern olim who continue to work overseas and live in Israel because “they cannot make a sufficient living here.” These early pioneers lived within their means. Laibel feels that after some forty years in Israel, he is definitely successful. He, his wife and his garin have been instrumental in creating a vibrant and flourishing kibbutz that has grown from about 250 to 650 people.
Laibel and Debby have seven married children, and one who is as yet unmarried. They have eighteen grandchildren with IY”H more on the way. They feel that not only doctors, lawyers and business people should be considered role models, but also people with positive attributes (midot) and people who set aside time each day for studying Torah or spending stormy winter nights in young settlements doing guard duty.
Laibel and Debby also remind us that Americans were already coming to Israel in the early thirties both from Bnei Akiva and from other Zionist organizations.
In the late 1930′s, Eliezer Goldman, for example, came on aliya after finishing Yeshiva University. He went to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, becoming the economic director of the kibbutz, strengthening it and laying the foundation for the development and solidity of the kibbutz and Kibbutz HaDati in general. From the establishment of the State of Israel until the end of the 20th century, Bnei Akiva garinim have come to Israel to be part of the process of building of the state.
Another example is that of Debby’s cousin and her husband, Sylvia and Meyer Kaplan, who came on aliya in 1948. They stopped on the way in France to work to rehabilitate young children who had survived the Holocaust. Meyer established the Criminal Investigation Department of the Israel Police, founded the police labs, and was Israel’s representative to Interpol.
In his free time, he also was one of the founders and first president of the AACI. Laibel believes that the early olim enabled those who came later to establish themselves and to have a much easier absorption than that experienced by the earlier olim. (See the Lipnick family picture – attached)
Celia and Zvi Ofer live in Kiryat Arba, a community full of olim who, like them, are college graduates and professionals, and who made a deliberate decision back in the sixties and seventies to raise their families in the Jewish state. They never “schnorred” off anybody and were a source of pride and joy to the loved ones who, with a heavy heart, they left behind.
They miss their parents and sadly, to their six children, grandparents mean a telephone receiver. Celia, like many Jewish mothers, often does not sleep well at night worrying about her son, Avi, a member of a crack Nahal unit who is stationed in the heart of Jenin, and her son, Uri (a former Golani fighter), who lives with his small growing family in downtown Hebron, a minute’s walk from Ma’arat Hamachpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs).
Another son is a ten-year veteran of Mishmar Hagvul (Border Police), doing his part on a daily basis to keep Israel safe. Their daughter, who is married to the son of American olim who came to Israel in the 1970s, lives in the settlement of Eli, and another daughter studies at Hadassah Nursing School. Their youngest daughter just began Sherut Leumi in a kindergarten in Har Choma. Their hearts burst with thanks to the Almighty that He has been a partner in making their fateful decision of 30 years ago a success.
The Ofers are contributing to making Israel a viable state so that you may come soon to a built- up, safe homeland. While they may feel that they have not done anything special, they are typical of thousands of educated American families who have made aliyah.
Adriana Derry has been in Israel 23 years, one month and three weeks. She came from Southern California, more specifically from West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. She had just completed her post- graduate studies in law and decided to come to Israel. The only thing of real importance that she left behind was her entire family. (She came with a new husband, who is now an ex-husband).
Adriana has been a free-lance graphic designer and website developer for many years. Her greatest accomplishment is being the proud mother of 5 children and being able to care for them in a way that she always wanted to. She also has her own community website for Modiin and the surrounding communities, which is a great success for her personally. It gives her great satisfaction to be able to provide a service to the communities.
Adriana feels that the very best thing she did in her entire life was moving to Israel so many years ago. She has been back to Southern California twice, for two and a half years each time, and it was always very, very easy to come back HOME to Israel!
Her entire story is very complex. She was born and raised as a Protestant Christian and converted to Judaism at the age of 18, because she always believed that some kind of strange mistake had been made at her birth. At the age of 15, she had set her heart on coming to Israel, not knowing one single word of Hebrew, never even having even been in a beit knesset, or even knowing any Jews because her community was completely Seventh Day Adventist.
Asher Scharf and his wife were married for two years when they made aliyah to Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa in 1978. Asher had finished his BA in psychology, his MA in Jewish Education, and his Semicha for the Rabbinate, all at Yeshiva University. His wife finished her MA in Speech and Language Pathology at Queens College. When they made aliya, they left a loving family (on both sides) who were sorry to see them go, but who realized that they were achieving their life’s dream. Asher is today a technical writer working for a start-up company in southern Israel, and his wife works as a speech teacher and early childhood counselor in many schools and cities.
We in Israel need Nefesh B’Nefesh. Every time this organization brings in another planeload of olim, the welcome is so uplifting, the arrival is so exciting, the emotional high is so stimulating, that several old-timers go to the airport ceremonies just to be reminded how important American and Canadian aliyah is. They also witness the fantastic job of cutting through the usual Israeli red tape that Nefesh B’Nefesh has accomplished.
Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Fass are examples of how one or two people can create amazing changes in society. Their efforts to bring American and Canadian Jews to Israel have been very successful and they have also created a small revolution in several Israeli government offices. Thanks in part to the demands of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Israeli government offices are planning to reduce bureaucracy and make their operations more efficient, thereby making life a little more comfortable for all Israelis.
The latest flight had over 250 new immigrants. As they left the plane, some parents gathered their children and quietly recited the “Shehecheyanu” prayer: “Thank You G-d for letting me live to see this day.” Others knelt down to kiss the oil-stained tarmac as they realized that they had succeeded in becoming new citizens of the Land of Israel. As on the previous flight, some 40 young singles had come to settle in Israel to bring their spirit, new ideas and strength to our homeland. Several greeters sounded a welcome blast on the Shofar reminding us that this arrival was a mitzvah that will be remembered by Hashem during the High Holy Days that will soon be here. The remainder just sang and cheered with joy to welcome the new Olim with “Shalom Aleichem.”
All along the tarmac, from the plane to the huge hanger used by Nefesh B’Nefesh for the welcoming ceremonies, Israeli soldiers stood with little Israeli flags to welcome the olim home and to help them and escort them to the hanger. It was a heart-warming sight that brought big smiles to the faces of the olim and especially to the children.
We had gathered by 7:00 in the morning for the arrival ceremonies. Some people did not even have a chance to daven, but decided to come anyway, and they davened while waiting for the plane to land. A young doctor, who remembered that I had been the one to greet him when his family made aliyah, came to liven up the event with his pump and balloons and kept the little children smiling. He has put on similar shows in Israeli hospitals because he believes that joy and laughter helps heal many ailments.
In the past, olim fresh off the plane after 11 sleepless hours would be asked to sit through two hours of welcoming speeches. Nefesh B’Nefesh has streamlined the welcome to a perfect blend of speeches and entertainment and the olim appreciated it.
Three of the families came to live in Hashmonaim: the Offenbach family, the Mark family and the Feldman family. One of the cutest families was the Felstein family with each member of the family wearing a family aliyah portrait tee shirt.
The olim will never forget this day in their lives when they finally came home. When are you coming home?
As a Tehilla volunteer I have been going to the airport for many years to assist new immigrants (olim) during their first hours facing real Israeli bureaucracy. I recently had the pleasure of joining hundreds of other Israelis in greeting another five hundred olim from the U.S.A. What an uplifting experience it was. The cheers, the music, the Israeli soldiers waving flags, the politicians; it was great! As usual, several of the families were coming to the settlement town of Hashmonaim where I live, and I greeted them as a representative of both Tehilla and Hashmonaim. Those who came to Hashmonaim with their families this year were David and Shifra Waxman, Yonatan and Debbie Yunger, Yona and Rhonda Lloyd, Chaim and Janet Grosbard, Mark and Huda Weichselbaum, Steve and Lisa Zeitcheik, and Yehudah and Tamara Laufer.
By now, almost everyone has heard of the fantastic success of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization created by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Mr. Tony Gelbart. Together, they have brought more than 1,500 new olim to Israel in the past thirteen months. These two men have put together a professional, well-run organization that has received nothing but praise from all of those I spoke to. Not every Nefesh B’Nefesh oleh took the financial aid offered, but everyone utilized and praised the support network that these men have built.
Among the families who arrived a year ago on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh flight were Mark and Yael Lieser from Dallas, Texas. Today, these “Nefeshers” can provide advice to those who came recently. Mark and Yael still use the Nefesh B’Nefesh hotline and receive regular calls from the organization to check how they are doing. When Mark was called into the U.S. army reserves during the Iraq crises, Yael received many calls from Nefesh B’Nefesh asking if she needed any help. Fortunately, the support system in Hashmonaim run by Malkah Livne and her many women assistants provided the support Yael needed, but it was good to know that more help was always available.
Nefesh B’Nefesh arranges a welcoming committee in each area but in Hashmonaim, it depends upon the excellent welcoming committee run by Malkah. Malkah set up buddy families and the Hashmonaim support has been fantastic. As many of the olim pointed out, “In Hashmonaim, everyone is a buddy and everyone is eager to help.”
Mark described how Nefesh B’Nefesh solved or facilitated so many “little” problems. “Nefesh B’Nefesh does not guess,” he emphasized. “They will check and call you back if they do not know the answer to your question. When I first received a TV tax bill, I had no idea what to do with it, but a quick call to the hotline provided all of the information.
“When I needed to leave the country and the Interior Ministry was on strike, Nefesh B’Nefesh knew whom to call to get me an emergency passport in five hours. When I needed a certain document they told me to go to an office and ask for Tzippy. Instead of having to wait on a long line, I was out in 10 minutes.” When during a regular phone checkup Nefesh B’Nefesh heard that the Liesers were unhappy with the Hebrew help their girls were receiving, Nefesh B’Nefesh found them a Jerusalem school that provided intensive Hebrew studies.
For Mark, it has been difficult to make ends meet as a doctor. He is a head surgeon in a Texas hospital and he commutes to work at his American hospital and hopes that the situation in Israel will improve.
Avi and Robin Schreiber also came to Hashmonaim via Nefesh B’Nefesh last year. The Schreibers have gone on outings with Nefesh B’Nefesh and are thrilled with the opportunity to “hang out with others who are going through the same experiences that we are”. The Schreibers are the proud parents of their first “Sabra” - the 29th Sabra born to an Nefesh B’Nefesh family.
David and Shifra Waxman arrived a few short weeks ago from Riverdale. Before they arrived in Israel, and after applying for membership in Nefesh B’Nefesh, they received access to an Internet newsgroup, began receiving a newsletter, and attended orientation and social gatherings. The major advantage for them and for all of the other olim was the streamlining of the entire bureaucratic process.
Having the immigration staff on the Nefesh B’Nefesh plane made arrival so easy. Three days after arriving, a meeting was held in Jerusalem and identity cards were distributed. Normally, an Oleh would have to wait a week, go to an office, wait on lines, fill out forms and wait. Receiving the card so quickly enabled the Waxmans to free their furniture shipment from the port, get their drivers licenses, open a bank account and do all the other things that require an identity card, in just a few days.
When David needed to know the process for buying gas (a local or regional supplier?), the hotline advisor explained the process and gave him the phone numbers to call. Nefesh B’Nefesh also gave each oleh a cell phone with one month’s free service. The organization provided their cell phone numbers weeks before they left for Israel so that all of their relatives would already know their number. This greatly helped to reduce parental anxiety.
The email list received special praise from everyone. Months before their Aliyah, many online discussions were held on what to buy, where to buy, and what they charge, which shipper was best, and who to watch out for. The information saved the olim many thousands of dollars. People shared information about the different communities and even allowed others to share room in their shipping containers. The Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah poster contains a listing of the step-by-step sequence of actions that need to be followed by the new Oleh in his first days in Israel and was especially useful.
The emotional high generated by the send-off and reception also came in for special praise. It was especially helpful to the (grand)parents who were sending their children off to Israel, and it helped the olim who felt a part of this great movement. The balloons, the cake, the music and singers, the comedians, even the speakers gave them a feeling that Israel really wanted them to come.
Chaim and Janet Grosbard came from N. Miami Beach. Chaim practices Chinese and Homeopathic medicine. My wife, Barbara, and I had met with them and the Ostroff family when we visited Florida and were happy to see them on Aliyah. The Grosbards felt that, while the financial aid was very important, they were very thankful for the organization of the trip, the internet information, the hotline and the support infrastructure, which all served to reduce the anxiety of a scary experience. They also highly praised the Hashmonaim community for its warmth and support.
Shabbat meals were arranged for them with different families, local children welcomed their children, and their buddies are very helpful. Their Israeli Shaliach was so impressed with the Nefesh B’Nefesh preparation that not only was his work reduced to a minimum, but upon his return to Israel the Shaliach plans to suggest that the Absorption Ministry adopt the Nefesh B’Nefesh practices.
Yonatan and Debby Yunger from West Orange, New Jersey got off the plane, attended the ceremony, and then received their papers and government stipend with no waiting. Yonatan, a technology manager for J.P. Morgan, hopes that the Nefesh B’Nefesh employment office will help him find work. Nefesh B’Nefesh has an employment center and a job bank and will help olim write their resumes in Hebrew. They also have a social worker and a psychologist working on crisis management
Yonatan was especially grateful that Nefesh B’Nefesh was able to help straighten out his status. His parents had lived in Israel in the 50′s and therefore he was considered a returning citizen. Technically, the family was an Oleh family so they should have all been listed as immigrants. When he called Nefesh B’Nefesh to get help, they conferenced him into a call with the Absorption Ministry which called the Ministry of Interior and straightened out the mess.
There are many organizations helping new immigrants, but not one works as professionally and as efficiently as Nefesh B’Nefesh. This wonderful organization improves its services each year, and the Absorption Ministry could (and has already started to) use some of its methods. If every American Oleh would join Nefesh B’Nefesh, his experience with Israeli bureaucracy would be very pleasant, and I would be out of a volunteer job.