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Initiative puts recent arrivals on NGO career track

יולי 2, 2010. Haaretz: Raphael Ahren

A small group of Western immigrants this week moved one step closer to pursuing careers in Israel's nonprofit world. The 10 participants - half of them from the U.S. - completed the "Olim B'Amutot" (Immigrants in nonprofit organizations ) course, run by Nefesh B'Nefesh and Gvahim, the two immigration assistance groups who initiated the program. Eight of them immediately landed paid long-term internships, Gvahim's executive director, Mickael Bensadoun, told Anglo File.

Bensadoun, who was born in Morocco and studied in France and at Columbia University before coming to Israel, said his own background inspired him to launch the new program. "I came here in 2001. After finishing my PhD, I got an internship at the Rashi Foundation," he said. "It wasn't very well paid, but after a few months, they hired me fulltime and I got a good salary, and, more importantly, a real opportunity to use my skills and expertise for Israel. If it worked for me, why wouldn't it work for other immigrants as well?"

Over the past five years, 15 percent of new arrivals sought employment in the nonprofit sector, NBN and Gvahim said in a statement this week. It also quoted to the Israeli Center for Third Sector Research as saying that nonprofit and non-governmental organizations account for 13.3 percent of Israel's GDP and 10.9 percent of the total employment in Israel. Taught by local professionals, "Olim B'Amutot" covered topics such as philanthropic trends, transparency, evaluation, resource development strategy, marketing tools and tactics and partnership development.

The participants, who besides the U.S. hail from France, Poland, Russia and Brazil, are currently interning at nonprofits such as Reuth Medical Center, Natal - Israel's Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, educational organization Ma'ase and Tebeka, which promotes civil rights for Ethiopian Israelis.

NBN aids all North American and British immigrants, while Gvahim in 2009 expanded its original founded to help highly educated French speakers find jobs and advance in their careers after they moved here. Since 2009, the group serves immigrants with university degrees from all over the world.

Critics of the program - especially those who have university degrees in philanthropy or related fields - argue two months is not enough to teach immigrants about the third sector.

But, responds Bensadoun, "Olim B'Amutot" participants graduated from the world's top universities and in many cases already gained third sector experiences in their native countries. Eliezer Jaffe, co-chairman of Hebrew University's Center for the Study of Philanthropy - which is not connected to "Olim B'Amutot" - told Anglo File the program is "a great idea" as it strengthens the local nonprofit world and enables participants to get a foot in the door.


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