Photo Credit: Courtesy Olim Advisors
The Olim Advisor staff team building event at Aldo Ice Cream Shop.

Not too long ago, we concluded our Pesach Seder with the joyful proclamation: “Next year in Yerushalyim!” For many, this is more than a simple Haggadah declaration; it is a lifelong aspiration to move to the land where our ancestors have lived since biblical times.

For some, this inherent desire stems from a wish to reside in a place whose soil is drenched with spirituality. For others, making aliyah is about reconnecting with their Sabra relatives, or being closer to their adult children who have relocated there. And now, many are realizing that Israel is a welcome haven for retirement as well as an escape from an ever-increasing hostile environment back home.


Emigrating to any country presents a wide array of challenges: learning a new language, adapting to the culture and laws, obtaining employment and buying property. Israel is no different, and has its own distinct set of bureaucratic hoops one has to jump through before they can call the Land of Milk and Honey their home. Unfortunately, many are deterred by these obstacles and give up on the dream of making aliyah or buying a home in Israel.

This is where Olim Advisors steps in. Founded in 2016 by brother and sister team Rafi Shulman and Lara Itzhaki, their goal is to make people’s dream a reality by personally guiding clients through the immigration and home-buying process step by step, ensuring a streamlined process where stress is minimized, loss is prevented, and that their rights and interests are fully protected.


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The reason why Shulman, a successful businessman, and Itzhaki a professionally trained social worker, are well-equipped for this task is that not only do they live in Israel but they made aliyah and are very passionate about it. Hailing originally from South Africa, Shulman and Itzhaki moved to Israel in 1977, living there for eight years until their family was forced to move to the U.S. for financial reasons. The magic of Israel never left them, and Itzhaki returned in 2010 and Shulman in 2015.

Running Olim Advisors has been a labor of love for them and they are proud to have assisted thousands of olim and Anglos make aliyah and buy a home in Israel. They believe Israel is home for all Jews, and they hope to encourage more people to take the plunge by seeking out their services.

According to JNS, 70,000 people made aliyah in 2022. Olim Advisors has seen the spike firsthand and attribute Covid partially as the source of the increase. While the rest of the world was stumbling to gain a grasp of normalcy during the pandemic, Israel was at the forefront of finding a vaccination and protecting its citizens from Covid. Jews from around the world have seen this and wanted to take advantage of this. Additionally, Jews from around the world were not able to visit Israel when the borders were shut, so many decided to make aliyah and become Israeli citizens so that they could enter Israel.

Shulman notices other emerging trends in Anglo aliyah. He says that more and more couples are making aliyah with older kids and that families who have children with special needs are coming because they acknowledge the superior support and resources that are available to their kids in Israel. Sadly, Jews from across the globe are also witnessing a disturbing spread of antisemitism and recognize that ultimately Israel is the safest place for them.

Seniors are also flocking to Israel more, and less to previously popular retirement destinations like Florida, Arizona and California. One such couple who are taking the plunge to make aliyah this coming December are husband and wife Artie Jacobowitz and Karen Haubenstock from Florida. After deciding to move to Israel, they quickly realized that they were going to need help with, as they put it, “Everything!” since neither spoke Hebrew and or knew anything about Israeli law. A friend referred them to Shulman and his team and they couldn’t be happier.

Leah and Shya Suffin.

Leah Suffin, another client, concurs, saying that Olim Advisors did not disappoint. Although she notes that Nefesh B’Nefesh provided critical guidance before and after making aliyah, Olim Advisors gave them peace of mind since it felt like having “a friend in our new home who could help us communicate and get settled in a country where we did not speak the language fluently.”

But it’s not all falafel and Krembo. Before one can call oneself an official Sabra, there are several hurdles to overcome. “Many olim struggle to adjust to their new lives in Israel,” says Shulman, adding that this can last for years and eventually even destroy their dream of aliyah. He recollects the sad case of one couple who ultimately ended their aliyah before it even began. Shulman blames not doing enough research and poor planning as the #1 mistake new olim make. This couple had never been to Israel on a pilot trip, or even for a vacation. They prematurely moved without investigating the proper city for them. Once they arrived, they were shocked by the cultural disparity of the community and realized that this was an unsuitable place for them. Dejected and overwhelmed, they moved back to the U.S. a mere few weeks after their initial move.

Jacobowitz and Haubenstock, with the guidance of Olim Advisors, did not make this mistake. In the fall of 2022, Shulman arranged a pilot trip for them including planning their itinerary, connecting them with English-speaking olim, providing names and contact information for local synagogues and olim coordinators, and they even matched them up with realtors for each major city on their trip. Haubenstock relates that one of the highlights of this trip was when her Shulman paired them with their personal advisor, Meir Castro, who not only helped them with every question and concern but provided the calm they needed “to manage our stress and laughs galore on our big adventure.”

To showcase Olim Advisors’s commitment to customer satisfaction, Haubenstock says that even upon their return to the U.S., Castro kept in touch regularly with them to answer any post-pilot trip questions and to assist them in narrowing down their search.

“By January 2023 we knew where we wanted to relocate and wanted to explore buying an apartment. Olim Advisors arranged WhatsApp and Zoom calls for us to meet the builder, a real estate attorney, and a mortgage broker,” they say. For the Suffins, Olim Advisors, provided a real friend in Itzhaki who prepared them by telling them what to expect, what to bring, and even meeting with the couple at the bank and the ministry. “They will ‘bend over backwards’ to help,” she says.

“These days there are so many options to choose from – communities, schools, ways of life,” explains Shulman. “The research and planning that one does before can make or break the aliyah.” Shulman recommends that clients seek out professional help a year or more before they make aliyah. Reaching out to Olim Advisors is a smart move, he explains, because of the company’s track record of experience, knowledge, and contacts.

Recognizing the importance of providing individuals with the necessary knowledge and resources, Olim Advisors, IsraTransfer, Avraham Levinsky Law Firm, Elite Israel Realty, Omega Mortgages, and REMAX Vision have joined forces to share their extensive knowledge and insights during two webinars that will be held on June 11 and June 25 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST. The panel of experts aims to cover a wide range of subjects, including aliyah, the home-buying process in Israel, mortgage acquisition, legal considerations, and transferring funds to Israel.

By joining forces, these industry leaders are pooling their expertise to empower prospective olim with comprehensive knowledge. The webinar will serve as a platform for participants to learn from experienced professionals, ask questions and gain valuable insights into the intricacies of aliyah and real estate in Israel.

The webinars will also provide participants with the opportunity to explore various exciting real estate projects in multiple cities throughout Israel. From the historic streets of Jerusalem to the vibrant ambiance of Tel Aviv, and from the tranquil neighborhoods of Ramat Beit Shemesh and Raanana to the coastal towns of Netanya, and Nahariya, this panel of experienced realtors will showcase a diverse range of property options. Building upon the success of their previous webinars, the collaboration anticipates a high turnout, with several hundred individuals expected to register. For those interested in gaining comprehensive knowledge and practical insights into making aliyah and purchasing property in Israel, this is an opportunity not to be missed. To learn more about the webinars and to register you can visit the website

With regards to buying a home in Israel, Rafi states that once a buyer identifies a home to buy, the transaction can be closed in a matter of a few weeks if everything goes smoothly. “Homes that are priced right and are located in desirable areas typically sell very quickly so it’s very important that foreign buyers have their affairs in order (i.e., they’ve chosen an Israeli real estate lawyer to work with, they know how they are going to transfer the funds to buy the home, they’ve been pre- approved for a mortgage if they need one, etc.),” he says. Families think they can emigrate to Israel and buy land on their own, but there is so much in that they may be unaware of and in the end this will harm them. For example, Rafi explains that Israel has some unique laws about purchasing that Americans don’t know about like the fact that foreign residents pay at least 8% purchase tax whereas olim purchase tax can be as low as 0.5% or that most developers who sell properties “on paper” will also include a Building Index fee, which is based on the monthly Building Index rate that the Israeli government sets every month. So many Olim and Anglos have gotten taken advantage of because they didn’t know that if a construction project is being built by a “bank guaranteed” developer, if the developer goes bankrupt that bank will step in which protects the buyers.

Israeli real estate is complicated, says Haubenstock. Thanks to Olim Advisors she and her husband were educated about negotiating/signing contracts, working with vendors, calculating the builder’s index, exchanging currency, setting up a bank account, watching the economy and the effect on interest rates, selecting the best mortgage offer for seniors, and paying the purchase tax as a foreign investor and builder’s legal fees, etc. “We could we have done this without Olim Advisors and the fantastic team they recommended for us. There is no way! Not only did they negotiate terms and conditions in our best interest, but they explained the whole process as we moved forward and helped us understand the translation of complicated business terms,” she exclaims.

In addition to real estate, there are other Israeli bureaucratic policies that one has to deal with. When olim arrive in Israel, there are five government and bank meetings that they need to schedule and attend to get their teudat zehut (ID card), olim benefits, bank account, Israeli passport and Israeli driver license, explains Rafi. The issue is that for most olim, it’s become mission impossible to schedule appointments (the typical wait now six months or more), which means that they have to live in limbo until they are able to take care of this. Olim Advisors facilitates this process by doing three things: 1) They make sure their clients have all the required documents they need (i.e., marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.) 2) They schedule the appointments for them much sooner than a few months down the road and 3) They go with their clients to each appointment to make sure that everything is done right the first time.

This is why it is imperative to work with a reputable company like Olim Advisors. They will hold your hand through this whole complicated process and make sure that everything moves along smoothly and efficiently. Haubenstock and Jacobowitz concur reporting that they asked the company a multitude of questions, even in middle of the night when they forgot about the time difference and were always met with a warm and professional response.

They offer several services and aliyah packages that start when a client signs up (typically 6-12 months before aliyah) and continue for 6-12 months after aliyah. One of their most sought-after service is their Real Estate Package since buying property in Israel is the biggest challenge many Anglos face and where they frequently met with mishaps. But Olim Advisors extends far beyond just buying property; they also offer a VIP for 50+ Package for people who are 50 years and older as well as a Pilot Trip Package and Israel Health Care Package. Another very important service provided is their Children with Special Needs Package, which assists families in obtaining support, resources, and the financial assistance that the child deserves. But it doesn’t end here, Rafi is so passionate about helping people move to Israel that he says many people contact them on a daily basis and ask for advice and guidance which they will gladly provide.

Making Aliya doesn’t have to be a dream, contact Olim Advisors at and with their expertise help, you can make Pesach’s wish of “Next year in Yerushalyim” a reality!

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Ita Yankovich is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in various Jewish and secular publications. She also teaches English and Literature at Kingsborough College and Touro College. She can be reached at [email protected].