Message to visitng French students: Move to Israel

Project brining young Jewish French students to visit Israel focused this year on the value of immigrating to Israel

Tags: France aliyah
Arutz Sheva ,

Bac Bleu Blanc Mega Event
Bac Bleu Blanc Mega Event
Oded Antman

The closing mega event of “Bac Bleu Blanc” (Graduates in Blue and White), a project initiated by the Jewish agency’s educational arm, ‘Israel Experience’, was held Saturday night at the Jerusalem Convention Center (ICC). This year the project focused on making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) in light of the challenges that young French Jews face in France nowadays.

The “Bac Bleu Blanc” program brings over 1000 students from 26 French schools every year. It has brought over 15,000 participants since its inception in 2003. The students who participated this year arrived from Boulogne, Strassburg, Sarcelles and Marseilles in addition to some French Jewish speaking pupils from Arab countries. They took part in the closing event on Saturday night in Jerusalem. The program was initiated and organized by the Jewish Agency's educational arm, 'Israel Experience'.

Among the stories and videos of alumni that were played throughout the evening, was the story of Elliot Maimoun, age 21 who made aliyah, enlisted in the IDF and was an instructor in “Bac Bleu Blanc”. Elliot told his own aliyah story and finished on a personal note, when he mentioned his little sister who had come on the program this year.

“At first I was afraid of Israel, I thought it was a land that is always engaged in wars. After my older sister made aliyah,we started coming on vacations and visiting the country.Through the program, I studied at Mahon Meir for two years and then enlisted in the military. It wasn’t easy. I remember calling my mom a lot when it was overwhelming. She passed away last July. I love the atmosphere here in Israel that makes one feel like we are all one family. Israelis have their own national personality, yelling and sometimes arguing, but the general feeling is that you are not alone. When I saw what the instructors of Bac Bleu Blanc, give of themselves to their pupils, I said that one day I too also want to give back to others what I benefited from them. They affected my decision to make aliyah.They helped me a lot,” said Maimoun in the video.

“In the future, I see myself living in Israel ”concluded Maimoun. “I would love it if my whole family would move here. My little sister, Noa, is in the audience right now. I would like her to finish the program and join me and my sister Salome in living with us in Israel”.

During the event, the CEO of ’Israel Experience’, Amos Hermon, gave Elliot and his little sister Noa a Mezuzah as a sign that the little sister will join her siblings and make aliyah.

Deputy Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Dr. David Breakstone focused his speech on Israel and encouraged the participants to make aliyah. “Of course I would love to see you all make aliyah.” said Breakstone, “But I believe that, every Jew around the world has the privilege, the option and responsibility to participate in building the State of Israel”.

Breakstone added that he hoped that “during the days when you walked around Israel you encountered countless opportunities in education, army, and employment in order to make Israel your home”.

Breakstone concluded his words by referring to the upcoming holiday of Hanuka: “Tomorrow you return to your individual homes in Europe, but tomorrow we are also lighting the Hanuka lights. And I hope that each and everyone of you sees himself or herself as a light, shining the light of Israel all over the world. And everyone’s actions here counts. The Maccabees will rise up again. You, this wonderful generation, you are the Maccabees of our generation".

Throughout the evening, different testimonies were heard. Some were of the students and their feelings about Israel throughout their trip, and some were of the alumni of the program who made aliyah and integrated in Israel. Some alumni enlisted in the IDF, some in the civil service and some went to school or straight to work. Other videos that were played throughout the evening talked about the importance of Israel and encouraged the students to come and live here.

Amos Hermon, CEO of the Israeli experience, concluded: "In recent years we have seen a rise of anti-Semitism in Europe as a whole and in France in particular. The Israel Experience has been striving for many years to encourage the youth in France to get to know Israel and its higher educational institutions better. To our delight, many of our program’s participants have also decided to come here and make aliyah."