Since it was founded in 2002, Nefesh BNefesh has revolutionized the process of making Aliyah from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – making the idea of moving to Israel a realistic option for many, and facilitating the process both before and after the actual move to Israel.
After an Israeli relative of Rabbi Yehoshua Fass was murdered in March 2001 by a terrorist bombing, he was compelled to embark on a personal mission. The next year, he founded Nefesh BNefesh together with Tony Gelbart, transforming Western Aliyah by removing the financial, professional and logistical obstacles that prevent many individuals from fulfilling their dreams.
In the past 14 years, the organization – in cooperation with Israels Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA – has assisted 50,000 Western Olim, and boasts a remarkable retention rate of over 90 percent.
Nefesh BNefesh Olim contribute considerably to the social, economic and demographic welfare of Israeli society by serving in the IDF (over 6,300 soldiers to date), settling in 187 of Israels cities and periphery communities, and boosting economic growth (contributing an estimated $420 million to the State), while infusing the country with idealistic enthusiasm and optimism.
Facilitating absorption by empowering Olim
Constantly seeking to improve the Aliyah experience, Nefesh BNefesh is introducing enhanced programming at five locations – including its new centers in Tel Aviv and Karmiel – which aims to provide a one-stop shop for complete post-Aliyah services. Building on the current roster of programs dedicated to helping new Olim settle in Israel, the new comprehensive platform aims to facilitate every aspect of adjusting to a new life in Israel.
We are delighted to further expand on our current range of post-Aliyah programming to continue giving our new Olim as much guidance and support with their Aliyah process as possible, something the organization has always been dedicated to, says Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co- Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh BNefesh. We are not only proud to have brought over 50,000 Jews to Israel, but are devoted to providing each and every one of them with the tools needed to integrate into Israeli society and the workforce, and continue having a significant influence on the successful development of the State of Israel.
In response to the growth of Oleh communities throughout the country, two new Aliyah centers will be inaugurated in Karmiel and Tel Aviv, in addition to the organizations headquarters in Jerusalem, its Beer Sheva office and the NBN-FIDF Center for Lone Soldiers in Tel-Aviv. As such, Olim will have the opportunity to participate in hundreds of workshops, webinars and events at these five locations. The programs are broken down into four key areas: Life in Israel, Employment, Israel Exploration and Social Events.
Covering a wide range of topics, such as navigating the health care system, higher education counseling and understanding taxes as a new Oleh, the Life in Israel programs will ensure a helping hand is given throughout the process, while Israel Exploration and Social Integration allow new arrivals to get to know Israel inside-out and connect with other Olim and Israelis alike.
In addition, Nefesh BNefesh has recently launched a dynamic online job board (www.nbn.org.il/jobboard) which assists Olim in search of employment in Israel. Over 500 new positions were posted from over 200 different companies in its first month of operation. The job board connects employers in search of quality employees directly with qualified Olim. The dedicated Nefesh BNefesh employment team guides Olim through interview workshops, career boot camps and help with resumes for Olim in search of their first job or establishing careers in Israel. Workshops and seminars on how to join the Start-Up Nation and build a business will also be offered by dedicated and seasoned experts with networking opportunities for those looking to expand their professional network in Israel.
Celebrating the impact of Anglo Olim
Three years ago, Nefesh BNefesh initiated the annual Sylvan Adams Nefesh BNefesh Bonei Zion Prize to honor the achievements of recent and veteran Olim from North America and the U.K. Recipients, who receive a monetary prize, are selected because they encapsulate the spirit of modern-day Zionism by contributing in a significant way towards the State of Israel.
This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Moshe Arens, the former diplomat and politician who made Aliyah from the U.S. in 1948 and was first elected to the Knesset in 1973. Among other positions in his long career, Arens served as Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and Israeli Ambassador to the US.
The other Anglo Olim who received the 2016 Bonei Zion Prize were:
- Prof. Howard (Chaim) Cedar, Safra Distinguished Professor of Developmental Biology and Cancer Research at Hebrew University, who made pioneering contributions in the field of genetics. Prof. Cedar made Aliyah in 1973 from the US.
- Scott R. Tobin, General Partner of Battery Ventures and a leading venture capitalist who is also involved in a number of social-impact initiatives in Israel. He officially made Aliyah in 2011 from the US.
- Dr. Rachel Levmore, Founder and Director of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project, which assists agunot in Israel and in the Diaspora to free themselves from the chains of unwanted marriage. She is a ground-breaking halachic scholar and social activist who made Aliyah in 1976 from the US.
- Barbara Levin, Principal Emerita of the Frankel Community School, whose curriculum for children from both secular and observant families was the prototype for the TALI educational system. She made Aliyah in 1969 from the US.
- Sahar Elbaz, Staff Sergeant in the Givati Brigade. A recently released lone soldier, he is one of only five soldiers to receive the Chief of Staffs citation in Operation Protective Edge, which was bestowed upon him for his bravery, resourcefulness and fortitude. He arrived in Israel on his own from the US four years ago, and immediately joined the IDF.
- Estelle Friedman, Director of Production at Israel Educational TV. Many generations have acquired the basics of English, Hebrew and Arabic, and basic concepts of Judaism, thanks to the innovation and accessibility Estelle brought to educational programming. She made Aliyah in 1964 from the US.
The 50,000th Nefesh BNefesh Olah
On August 18, 2016, Nefesh BNefesh celebrated the Aliyah of its 50,000th newcomer: 22-year-old Rebecca Glanzer from Brooklyn, NY. Rebecca recently graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Economics and is hoping to serve in the IDFs Artillery Brigade. I have been looking forward to making Aliyah and serving as a Lone Soldier in the IDF for so many years, and its so crazy that this dream I had in high school is finally being realized, she said. What drew me to Israel was the community and sense of belonging that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Being the 50,000th person to make Aliyah with Nefesh BNefesh only affirms for me that I am part of something bigger, joining the thousands of people who took the opportunity to live a more meaningful and more Jewish life in Israel. I cant believe its finally happening!
Rebecca, who is affiliated with the Reform movement, served on the executive board of Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel, which is Columbias largest pro-Israel public affairs committee. There she helped host educational, political and cultural events to help students connect with Israel on campus. She was involved for four years, mostly managing the public relations and marketing for their events. Last year, she also managed a project for TAMID, an Israel Investment Group, which gives American students the opportunity to practice their business skills through hands-on interaction with the Israeli economy. She led a year-long consulting project for a start-up based in Tel Aviv and was also involved in Challah for Hunger through Hillel, which every week bakes challahs that are sold to benefit the homeless of New York City.
For more information about Nefesh BNefesh, visit www.nbn.org.il