In honor of the State of Israel's upcoming 60th anniversary, the Ministry of Absorption has announced a campaign to encourage and help yordim [Israelis who emigrated] return home.
The campaign, entitled, "Returning Home for Israel's 60th," begins with a "personal call" to each and every emigrant: "Come home! The State of Israel is your home."
The government's call continues, "We have prepared, especially for you, an unprecedented array of benefits and incentives to ease your return home. Counselors and advisors are already waiting for you at a special 24-hour-a-day information center, at tel. +972-3-973-3333."
The announcement ends, "The decision is yours. The commitment is ours."
A recent study conducted by the The Rappaport Center for Assimilation Research and Strengthening Jewish Vitality in Bar Ilan University has found that assimilation among the children of Israeli yordim is comparatively high. The second-generation, as opposed to their parents, tends not to form connections with the Jewish community in their new country. Sixty percent of the children polled are not affiliated with their local Jewish community, while a quarter of them marry non-Jews, the study found.
Absorption Minister Yaakov Edry writes, "Israel is the place to educate and raise your children, to strike roots, to be built and to build the continued future of the State of Israel. Israeli society, on all its levels, needs you to help shore up the ranks, strengthen the economy, deepen the culture, nourish the leadership of the next generation, and to take an active and creative role in all that goes on here..."
Though calls of this nature are often greeted with cynical reactions such as, "First solve such-and-such problem and then we'll come back," the hope is that the former Israelis will realize that they themselves can and should be part of the solution.
The new program features aid in finding employment, starting a new business, and health insurance, as well as special aid to scientists and researchers, and more. Financial aid will given to employers who employ returning Israelis. Up to 10,000 shekels' aid will be provided for those taking part in external study courses. Aid will be provided to the returning Israelis for licensing tests, sportsmen, job placement; and more.
For information in Hebrew, click here, and in English, here.
Approximately 4,000 Israeli citizens returned home in 2007, and the government hopes that 10,000 will return in 2008.
World Jewry Numbers Stagnate
A research team led by Political Science Professor Gabi Sheffer of Hebrew University, and published by the Van Leer Institute, shows that world Jewry has barely grown over the past 30 years. The total number of Jews in the world is 13 million, according to the study, and has grown by an average of only 0.06% each year.
The study further found that in Russia, where intermarriage is the highest in the world, 70% of Jewish women and 80% of Jewish men marry non-Jews.
Sheffer and his co-researchers recommend the establishment of a government ministry for the encouragement of Israel-Diaspora ties. They say it is a national interest to pass a law that will obligate the government to make such ties a vital national strategic objective.