About 120 people flocked to a Toronto hotel on a rainy Tuesday evening in order to find out all about their career options if they choose to make Aliyah to Israel.
The event was one of several Aliyah career fairs conducted across North America by Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency. Additional fairs are being held this week in New York, Baltimore, and Miami.
Nefesh B’Nefesh conducts these Aliyah fairs on a regular basis, but the reason for the focus on careers this time around is that it is one of the most significant issues for potential Olim.
“There are two important things when moving to Israel,” said Ari Schuchman, Associate Director of Overseas Programs at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “One is communities and the other one is finding a job.” He explained that Nefesh B’Nefesh not only helps Olim learn about the difference between the jobs in Israel and jobs in North America, but also teaches them how to network.
“A lot of Israeli employers don’t want to hire unless you’re physically there,” said Schuchman. “Some people do come with a job beforehand, others it takes six to nine months once they’re there. What we try to do is help people network. We encourage everyone to come on a pilot trip a number of months before Aliyah where they go on informational interviews.”
These “informational interviews” connect the potential Olim with “employment buddies” who pass on their CVs to potential employers in Israel. Once the Aliyah process is complete, the Olim can then meet with the same people they met on the pilot trip in hopes of advancing their career in Israel. The potential employees can be former Olim who have gone through the experience of finding a job in Israel, employees of companies with whom Nefesh B’Nefesh has made contact, or simply people that contact Nefesh B’Nefesh themselves, partly thanks to the publicity that the organization’s chartered flights receive.
Participants in the Toronto fair were offered sessions on a wide range of topics, from job search strategies in Israel to information on specific fields such as lawyers, educators, and hi tech. Also on hand were representatives from shipping companies, financial planners, taxation experts, and even representatives of Israel’s health maintenance organizations.
Israeli cities such as Haifa and Jerusalem were also represented at the fair, and Schuchman explained that Israeli cities now allot budgets for the purpose of reaching out to potential Olim. Haifa and Jerusalem both send senior employees to the fairs whose job is to market their cities to potential future citizens.
In fact, said Smadar Stoller Porat, Project Manager for Olim from English-speaking countries at the Haifa Municipality, the city of Haifa assists Olim in almost everything they need when they arrive, from temporary housing in the heart of the city, through enrollment of children in schools, to assistance in finding employment.
Another unique session in the Toronto fair was “Social Networking in Israel” for singles and young professionals. “They need something different,” said Schuchman. “They need careers but they also need the social aspect of things.” The session was led by Tel Aviv resident David Matlin, a regional co-ordinator with Nefesh B’Nefesh. “He’s their age and they can identify with him. That’s what we’re all about, is actually being able to forge a relationship.”
Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh has helped 25,000 individuals from North America and the UK make Aliyah, and Schuchman said that the estimated number of Olim in 2010 is 5,000, up from 4,500 in 2009. Today, 25 per cent of the Olim are younger, a number which is growing.
There are four flight options for people making Aliyah: The Aliyah charter flights which operate during the summer out of New York; group Aliyah flights in which a group of Olim fly together on a regular El Al flight; individual flights; and a USAir flight if there is no El Al flight in the area. “Your Aliyah flight is free as a gift from the State of Israel,” explained Schuchman.
The October fairs will be followed by additional Aliyah events in December in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Northern New Jersey.
For more information about Nefesh B’Nefesh or to open your Aliyah file, visit the Nefesh B’Nefesh website at www.nbn.org.il