Israel Offers Anglo Docs Cash for Aliya

Jewish doctors from the U.K., U.S. and Canada who immigrate to Israel will receive an absorption package worth $60,000, the government and the Nefesh B'Nefesh immigration organization announced yesterday.

The initiative is part of a joint venture by the absorption and health ministries and Nefesh B'Nefesh intended to reverse the trend of Israeli doctors being lured abroad by bigger salaries.

"Nefesh B'Nefesh has identified a national strategic need of immediate urgency and is honored to channel itself to bolster the number of physicians in Israel," said Rabbi Joshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

According to recent statistics, Israel's current rate of 3.4 doctors per 1,000 people is estimated to drop to 2.5 doctors by 2025.

Plans to open a fifth medical school in Israel are underway and the initiative's organizers say the package, which will be given in addition to the regular absorption package offered to immigrating Jews, will help address the expected dearth.

Physicians under 40 who have completed their medical studies in either North America or Britain will receive $25,000 upon arrival in Israel. Over the next few years, they will be paid between $1,000 and $1,500 a month.

Applicants are promised shortened procedures to receive their medical and driver's licenses. In return, they must commit to work in Israel for at least nine months a year. Over the coming months, Nefesh B'Nefesh plans to launch a campaign among Jewish doctors in the Diaspora to promote the program.

Health Minister Yacov Ben-Yizri said that it is "important to encourage every Jewish doctor in the Diaspora to immigrate and offer his skills. It is of the utmost importance to have doctors immigrate, and I promise that the Health Ministry will do everything it can to help this blessed campaign."

Absorption Minister Jacob Edery added: "The shortage in the number of doctors over the next decade requires us to make a joint effort, and that is why the Absorption Ministry has joined the program. It will give funds and additional aid to ensure that the [doctors] are absorbed as well as possible into the Israeli health system."