Nefesh B'Nefesh Living Financially Smarter in Israel Conference.
Nefesh B'Nefesh Living Financially Smarter in Israel Conference.Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Nefesh B’Nefesh, in collaboration with the Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group, on Sunday hosted its first conference on financial literacy in Jerusalem.

The conference, which took place at the Nefesh B’Nefesh campus in Jerusalem and drew over 400 participants, aimed to help olim achieve financial empowerment in their new country. The sessions provided insights and tools regarding planning financial planning, maximizing savings, while making the Israeli financial system work for Olim.

The conference featured tips and strategies from Rifka Lebowitz, founder of the popular Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group and a certified financial planner with more than 20 years of experience in Israeli finance and banking.

Other renowned experts in finance who shared insights at the conference included Avner Stepak, owner and vice chairman of Meitav Investment House; Alon Katz, director and deputy CEO of Be The Bank – BTB Israel; and Danny Newman, senior agent and branch manager at Goldfus Insurance.

Over the summer, Lebowitz approached Nefesh B’Nefesh with the idea of using the organization’s new state-of-the-art facilities to host a seminar providing olim with advice on how to be more financially savvy. That idea quickly morphed into the daylong conference, which spanned a variety of topics including securing private health insurance, advice on investments in the Israeli market, understanding pension funds, sorting out estate and family planning, and more.

“Since 2009, when I opened my business, I have seen the need for more accessible financial advice. To fill the void, I started the Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group,” said Lebowitz, whose Facebook group now has more than 35,000 followers. “There is such a thirst for good financial knowledge, people want the full picture of how things work financially in general and specifically in Israel. Beyond sharing practical advice, and answering thousands of questions a month, I wanted to give the financially smarter community more and with this the idea for a full-day conference was born.”

This financial empowerment initiative is part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s efforts to provide its Olim with programming that can assist with their acclimation process, and therefore partnered with Lebowitz, by recognizing that many new and veteran immigrants often feel overwhelmed by the language barrier and bureaucracy associated with their financial needs in Israel. The conference provided practical tools and advice on navigating these issues.

“Making Aliyah is one of the most significant decisions in one’s life, and once newcomers have arrived and settled in, there are still critical decisions that need to be made. This conference helped hundreds of Olim answer burning questions about their personal finances and will hopefully put them on a path to achieve a greater understanding of how to navigate the financial world in Israel,” said Head of Events and Programming of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Sarah Kantor. “Our goal on an ongoing basis is to assist our Olim to be as informed as possible in order to make the best choices for themselves and their families in their new lives in Israel.”

Due to the success of this conference, the organizers are hoping to hold more financial-themed events in the near future.

“Working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh, I see this conference as just the beginning. This is our opportunity to help people further their financial literacy and empower them to make better, more informed decisions about their money,” Lebowitz said. “This is a community full of people who want to live their best quality of life here, who want to save for retirement and events, and reach their financial goals in the smartest way.”