Esteemed Aliyah Counselor Retires From United Jewish Israel Appeal

For more than three decades, Beulah Goodman helped Anglo immigrants to Israel navigate the country's rough bureaucratic currents.

A mainstay in the field of aliyah who has helped Anglos from across the globe navigate Israel's rough bureaucratic currents has retired after more than three decades.

The January 31 departure of 65-year-old Beulah Goodman as director of the Aliyah Department of the United Jewish Israel Appeal in Israel - formerly known as the British Olim Society - is leaving colleagues wistful.

Beulah Goodman - Daniel Bar-On - 17022012
Daniel Bar-On

"It's the end of an era," says Josie Arbel, national director of absorption services for the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, who has known Goodman for 18 years.

Dating back to the pre-computer, pre-Internet era - when online searches and aliyah registration were the stuff of Isaac Asimov's science fiction novels - Goodman was an indispensable counselor and provided a much-needed shoulder for new immigrants, colleagues recall.

"She represents to me the integrity of an aliyah professional who listens to the individual and brings appropriate information and advice from her wealth of knowledge to each situation," Arbel says.

"The true job of a good aliyah counselor is networking," says Goodman, who recalls tapping into her web of contacts in various fields to find elusive jobs for immigrants, while typing resumes on old computers and sending upwards of 70 copies a day to prospective employers via regular mail. "The two most important things to an oleh [immigrant] are finding a job and a home."

"Beulah and aliyah are synonymous," says Tracy Ruth Mathieson, who worked with Goodman on a daily basis for four years before joining Gvahim, a nonprofit organization that helps highly qualified immigrants find work. "For the Anglo oleh, she's a walking encyclopedia of everything that is connected to living in Israel."

A native of Bloemfontein, South Africa, Goodman wrote her first Zionist essay as an 11-year-old girl. Seven years later she immigrated to Israel with a group of 36 South Africans from Habonim Dror, settling in Kibbutz Tzora, some 20 kilometers from Jerusalem.

Goodman earned her teaching certificate at Oranim Academic College in Kiryat Tivon, near Haifa, and taught for 10 years. After a two-year stay in St. Louis, Missouri, she returned to her teaching duties in Israel before beginning her aliyah counseling career in 1979 with Telfed - The South African Zionist Federation (Israel ). In 1995 she joined the United Jewish Israel Appeal, which serves immigrants from England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Scandinavia.

In that time, Goodman has helped immigrants ease their way into a new and often overwhelming environment.

When Steve Davis, a freelance graphic artist from Yorkshire, England, arrived in Israel in 1999 at the age of 30, Goodman gave him the advice of a concerned mother and the practical assistance of a personal manager.

"She warned me that making aliyah as a single would be hard," says Davis, now married to an immigrant from New York and the father of a five-month-old son. "She knew the ropes and pointed me in the right direction. She helped me integrate into society."

Davis says Goodman helped him with leads and with his search for an accountant who could register him with authorities as a sole proprietor - a veritable bureaucratic minefield for the uninitiated.

"I feel privileged, very lucky," says Goodman, a mother of two, reflecting upon her career on what happened to be the same day as the 47th anniversary of her aliyah. "I am looking forward to a new path."