On March 11, Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) marked the tenth anniversary of its flagship "Aliyah Fair" with a Mega Aliyah Fair held in New York City.

The event, held at New York's John Jay College, was co-hosted by Nefesh B’Nefesh, Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA. (Aliyah is the Hebrew word for immigration to Israel - ed.)

The North American aliyah fairs were created by Nefesh B’Nefesh to enable prospective olim (immigrants to Israel) to personally interface with Nefesh B’Nefesh employees and relevant vendors in order to better understand the aliyah process, and prepare themselves as best as possible before immigrating to Israel.

In 2017, NBN assisted just under 4,000 North American olim in fulfilling their aliyah dreams. With three other large aliyah fairs planned for March 2018 in Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto, the organization hopes to inspire and empower even more North American Jews to make aliyah.

Whether prospective immigrants were retirees, young professionals, families, married couples, or singles, the aliyah fairs provided guidance about a wide-range of topics, including financial planning and budgeting, choosing a community, how to build a strategic job search plan, navigating the Israeli health care system, the ins and outs of buying or renting a home in Israel, and much more. The event was open to those intending to make aliyah in the near future as well as those in the initial planning stages.

“Nefesh B’Nefesh is committed to assisting its olim throughout their entire aliyah process and constantly strives to help them professionally, logistically and socially,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Our Mega Aliyah Event, and the additional North American fairs, have proven to be an indispensable element of the aliyah process, no matter where you are in your journey.”

The Mega Event included a full-day Medical Professionals Seminar that provided the opportunity to meet with top representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Health Licensing Division, the Israeli Medical Association, and Israeli health funds, while representatives from nearly every hospital in Israel were in attendance as well. Professionals in various medical fields were able to start the process of transferring their professional licenses to Israel on the spot.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu) views the New York Mega Aliyah Fair as an important and effective step in encouraging aliyah.

"In the 70th year since the establishment of the State of Israel, the country continues to fulfill the dream of its founding fathers - to bring all the sons and daughters of the Jewish people to the Holy Land. The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration plays a central role in this mission," she said.

Other aspects of the mega event included a full day of workshops and seminars, designed to provide professional answers to any aliyah questions; networking with hundreds of other aliyah-minded people; children’s programming; the presence of Israeli vendors and service providers who gave prospective immigrants a head start on aliyah preparations; and an Israeli-style shuk (market). The event’s “Go Beyond Pavilion,” organized by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and Nefesh B’Nefesh, helped attendees tap into the opportunities available to those who make aliyah to areas beyond Israel’s center.

Participants at the Mega Aliyah Fair in New York
Participants at the Mega Aliyah Fair in New York Shahar Azran