In an effort to address Israel’s acute shortage of physicians, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, Ministry of Health, and Nefesh B’Nefesh have created the International Medical Aliyah Program (IMAP) to streamline the immigration process for medical professionals, ensuring their ability to integrate into Israel’s medical workforce upon arrival in Israel. Europe’s first Medex event was hosted in Paris on Sunday by The Jewish Agency for Israel, as part of this broad national program.

Over 400 French and Belgian doctors and dentists attended the event in Paris, with the objective being to facilitate the aliyah (immigration to Israel) of 2,000 physicians from around the world over the course of the next five years. IMAP offers medical professionals an all-encompassing array of resources, services and personal consultations to ease the entire process.

Participants met with representatives of Israeli healthcare institutions to convert their medical licenses and interview with prospective employers. This one-stop-shop, which originated eight years ago by Nefesh B’Nefesh in the USA, supported by The Marcus Foundation and the Jewish Federations of North America – UIA, was created to address Israel’s medical professional shortage. According to an OECD report released last year, Israel fell 10% below the OECD average in 2020. Due to the aging population of Israel’s current doctors, the organization warns that Israel needs “a growing number of doctors per population to respond to growing care needs.”

As such, the potential olim (new immigrants) met with representatives of the Health Ministry’s Physicians Olim Directorate, interviewed with representatives of hospitals and HMOs, explored employment opportunities in Israel, received information about the various grants that may be available to them and ensured that their medical expertise will be recognized in Israel. These activities took place in one day and under one roof thereby greatly streamlining the participants’ aliyah process.

Minister of Aliyah and Integration, MK Ofir Sofer, said: “The aliyah of physicians to Israel, and particularly to the Negev and Galilee regions, will greatly enhance the country’s healthcare system. Today’s Medex conference in Paris builds upon this month’s successful gathering in New Jersey, aimed at attracting skilled Jewish doctors worldwide in the near future. Over the past month, we’ve convened significant aliyah conferences in New York, London, and Paris, witnessing strong support and eagerness to make aliyah, despite the current war, driven by solidarity and a genuine desire to fortify the State of Israel. I extend my gratitude to our esteemed partners at the Ministry of Health, Nefesh B’Nefesh and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Together we are poised to succeed.”

Minister of Health, MK Uriel Busso, added: "Today, the Ministry of Health is spearheading efforts to attract more medical professionals to our healthcare system, and I welcome any collaboration that supports this national objective for the advancement of Israeli society. The inaugural MedEx conference in Europe provides an ideal platform to introduce European Jewish medical professionals to the exceptional opportunities offered by the Israeli healthcare system and encourage them to consider aliyah. Strengthening our healthcare infrastructure with skilled professionals eligible for aliyah from Europe, who are eager to align their futures with the Jewish nation in its homeland, embodies true Zionism. I am confident that this national initiative will empower us to confront the myriad of challenges facing Israel's healthcare system and facilitate the recruitment of outstanding medical professionals to address these issues and care for the people of Israel."

Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, stressed: "We are witnessing a historic and exciting moment for our organization as we hold this joint event for the first time on European soil. Medex is not only important to us as an organization but has proven to be an incredible asset for the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. We hope that this new national program will provide Israel’s healthcare system with the additional manpower and support it currently needs. We are proud to be a resource for the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Ministry of Health, and The Jewish Agency as we all work together with the goal of enhancing the quality of Israel’s public medicine while providing these olim medical professionals with a smooth transition to working and living in Israel.”

Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Maj, Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, said: "The love for Israel is the driving force for aliyah for Jews from all over the world, as well as from France. They continue to express their support and pride in the State of Israel in these difficult days. In our complex reality, strengthening the healthcare system is an extremely important goal. The new olim are important partners in the building and development of the State of Israel since its establishment. They are an essential part of the mosaic of Israeli society as a whole. Their contribution is significant in all fields, including in the field of healthcare. We embrace these new olim and thank them from the bottom of our hearts."

The various distinguished guests who attended the event included Minister of Aliyah and Integration, MK Ofir Sofer; Director-General of the Ministry, Avichai Kahana; Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sefi Mendelovich; Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass; Deputy Director General of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Shay Felber; as well as representatives of Israel’s Medical Association. Additionally, all four Israeli HMO funds attended, as well as representatives from Beilinson Hospital, Hadassah Medical Center, Ziv Medical Center, Barzilai Medical Center, Shamir Medical Center, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, and other institutions. The event also placed an emphasis on opportunities available for those who want to practice medicine in Israel’s periphery.

Since its inception, Nefesh B’Nefesh has aided over 940 physicians and over 3,000 medical professionals in their aliyah processes. Most are now employed in hospitals, Israel’s health funds (HMOs), and the private sector.