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Nefesh B’Nefesh Launches Aliyah Challenge

New online contest offers jobs, cash prizes to American Jews making their home in Israel.
By Sara Miriam Gross
First Publish: 4/22/2013, 9:49 PM

Nefesh B’Nefesh Launches Aliyah Challenge
Nefesh B’Nefesh Launches Aliyah Challenge
Nefesh B’Nefesh

Have you ever entered a contest to win cash, a camera or maybe just dinner for two? Get ready for the ultimate prize upgrade - the chance to win a full-time job. In a new spin on the entire concept of online contests, Nefesh B'Nefesh has launched the Best Job Contest and the Wedding Gift Challenge (www.thisismyisrael.com). These two innovative social media initiatives are stirring up a storm of buzz about Aliyah, as contestants vie for the votes that can win them one-year positions at 10 impressive Israeli companies or a $10,000 wedding gift and other prizes.

Why target engaged couples and professionals? “Over the past few years we've noticed a growing trend of young couples and professionals making Aliyah. They're taking advantage of the healthy job market and great social opportunities available in Israel,” explains Marc Rosenberg, Director of Pre-Aliyah for Nefesh B’Nefesh. “These contests increase awareness of Aliyah by encouraging friends and family to share in the journey, and actively follow and support the contestants as they launch careers and start new lives in Israel.”

Despite minimal advertising, dozens of enthusiastic and hopeful future Olim have already entered, and close to 15,000 supportive friends, relatives and others have already cast their votes for the wedding contest alone. Each contestant posts his or her photo, background or professional credentials and above all, the story of their personal connection to the land of Israel.

Will the lucky couple be Aimee and Elan or maybe Sali and Aaron? Check the vote tally on the wedding cake next to each couple's page and you too can follow the race. We recently caught up with Melody Mostow, 22, one of the leading contenders for the grand prize. Melody is in the middle of a whirlwind of activity; she's finishing up exams to graduate college, planning her August wedding and making Aliyah arrangements, all at the same time. “I don't even think I've ever been in a contest before,” she admits with a laugh. “But I'm a political science major so I love campaigns and mobilizing people. When I saw the contest on Facebook I knew, this is a campaign I can really get behind. The mission is to raise awareness of Aliyah and I think we've told our story to everyone we know who's breathing!” Canvassing for votes from as many friends, relatives and strangers as possible, has indeed succeeded in spreading the word far and wide. “When they called me up to the stage for the senior graduation ceremony, my department head mentioned the contest in front of everyone. It was very funny since I hadn't even told him about it.”

Melody, who grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her fiancee Avi, who hails from Highland Park, Illinois, first met on their gap year in Israel. Now they are gearing up to make Aliyah, a mere 16 days after their wedding. “We're really living the dream,” she exclaims. But even dreams require decidedly worldly gear. “I think we already won the Ikea shopping spree, which will be incredibly helpful” she reports. “Although we're not in the lead for the main prize anymore.”

What's ahead for Melody and Avi? Avi plans to put his business degree in real estate and financing to good use, while Melody, who interned in the Knesset last summer, hopes to work in the Israeli government in some capacity.

Heading over to the job contestants, we spoke with Brandon Cohen, a 23-year-old East Coast native who is employed as an e-commerce manager at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Brandon is currently in second place, which gives him a good shot at winning one of the jobs being awarded. “There are a few positions that seem right for me,” he mentions. “Especially the brand management position at Soda Stream since that's a job I've done before.” Brandon hopes to make Aliyah within a year and notes that “Getting a full-time job in Israel would definitely speed up the process.”

Brandon's introduction to Israel began when his older brother Ian attended medical school in Tel Aviv. “We were in constant contact those years, and he told me about all the amazing things he was seeing and doing. Then when I came on Birthright after my freshman year, I extended my trip and Ian took me around to the places he had told me about.” Brandon's brother is now in the states but plans to make Aliyah in the future. Brandon began to consider Aliyah in February and soon after, saw an ad for the NBN Aliyah Mega Events. He and his parents attended the event held in New York and it was a real eye-opener. “I didn't know there was a program that helps you every step of the way.” Since then Brandon opened a file with NBN. He looks forward to using his business management degree, information technology skills and other talents to contribute to our dynamic homeland.

“Since I began sharing what I've learned from Nefesh B'Nefesh, my friends and family have all been positive about it. It’s actually started some of them thinking about Aliyah as well.”Could encouraging his connections to consider Israel create more competition for the prize he's after? “It's a risk I'll take,” he replies with a laugh.

To check out these cool contests for yourself, head to: www.thisismyisrael.com