Tough US Economy is Aliyah Incentive according to Jewish Agency
With a strong Israeli economy and dropping stock markets in the United States, the North American aliya movement may be on the brink of a new wave of immigrants, said Jewish Agency officials on Monday.
"I do believe there is the beginning of an awakening in the Orthodox community of the importance of aliya especially during the financial crunch [in the US]," said Akiva Werber, senior shaliah for the Jewish Agency's Israel Aliya Center.
"All of the economics, tourist trade, and high technology industries in Israel have [a growing] financial future, despite the fears of the approaching recession in the United States."
With 900 new olim expected this summer in Israel from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, people may be redefining what they want to accomplish in their lives and the areas in which they live, he added.
The numbers of olim, he went on, "have increased, but haven't reached the dream numbers we were all hoping for. We all believe [aliya] is an essential and important thing, but there is still a great fear of the unknown. With everyone working together, I believe we can see a major breakthrough."
Around 3,000 to 3,200 new immigrants are expected from North America by the end of 2008. Many of those moving to Israel are community leaders and will hopefully inspire others to make aliya, according Jacob Dallal, director of public relations and marketing for the Jewish Agency in North America.
"There has not been a huge increase [in aliya]. It's been on the increase in small increments for the past few years. A lot of energy and money has been invested in it and the numbers are not increasing greatly," said Paula Edelstein, co-chairman of the Jewish Agency Aliya and Klita Committee.
"Many people come to Israel because living a Jewish life in America is very expensive," Edelstein said, adding that she had met her husband at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem while on a one-year study program, and they made aliya together in 1972.
People can give their children a Jewish education in Israel without having to pay over $10,000 per child for the same education in the United States, she said.
"[The new olim] are young people who were bitten by the bug from birthright or Masa. They want to live here. They see it as a challenge and want to contribute to form the Israeli society," Edelstein said.
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