Daily Israel Report

Jerusalem Embraces Immigrants at 'The Event'

Mayor Nir Barkat and organizer sit down with Arutz Sheva to discuss massive event for English and French speaking olim.
By Yoni Kempinski, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 8/15/2014, 10:50 AM

Arutz Sheva was on the scene Thursday at The Event in Jerusalem's ICC (International Convention Center) Building, an event aimed at helping the English and French immigrant community overcome the language barrier and better integrate into life in Israel.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told Arutz Sheva that the annual event continues to grow remarkably, a process that testifies to the fact that Jerusalem is "starting to have a critical mass of immigrants from French and English speaking countries."

The Event "focuses on education and jobs. These are two things that make more of the immigrants stay in Jerusalem," remarked Barkat.

Highlighting Barkat's point, statistics released in May for Jerusalem Day showed that the hi-tech industry revenue in Jerusalem is roughly equal to that of Tel Aviv and Haifa combined; likewise, the capital absorbed 2,335 new olim (immigrants) in 2013, over twice as many as Tel Aviv or Haifa.

Remarking on the phenomenon of Jews abroad buying apartments in Jerusalem and leaving them empty, consequently harming the local housing market, Barkat noted that the vast array of cultural events and the ever improving quality of life is the way to erase the phenomenon.

"When the current olim say to their friends 'wow, it's great to live in Jerusalem,' more olim come," remarked the mayor.

Gidon Katz of the IMP Group that organized The Event also spoke to Arutz Sheva, noting that over 150 vendors were present to provide service in English as well as French.

Speaking about the strong presence of large companies, Katz appraised that his group had been able to "persuade them and show them that we (English and French speakers) are a market worth treating."

Proving this point, Katz pointed to the fact that Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim took the event "seriously" this year, and that a total of four major banks and all four kupot holim (health providers) had a presence.

On the job front, Katz said that last year as a pilot 13 companies looking to hire came to The Event. This year, that number expanded to 40 in a dedicated "employment zone," and additionally, opportunities to have the community network were provided.