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New forms of aliyah

יולי 1, 2007. Ynet: Israel Pupko

In today's world, moving from one country to another does not necessarily mean cutting links with the first country; more and more immigrants live in more than one country

Migration is one of the phenomena which have greatly influenced the Jewish people in the last century, if not the most influential one. Beyond influencing the geographical distribution of the Jews across the globe, migration also influences Jewish ways of identification and community participation.

Jews have been characterized by high levels of internal as well of outstanding levels of participation in international waves of migrations. The socio-economic characteristics of the Jewish population are cardinal in order to understand their hypermobility.
 
During the Conference for the Future of the Jewish People, the Jewish Identity, Identification and Demography working group will analyze, among others, the general current trends of Jewish migration and extrapolate policy conjunctions for the Jewish communities in the Diaspora as well as for the State of Israel.

Today more Jews either choose more than one place as their place of residence or commute between places (living and working in different places). It seems that this new trend is becoming more common in Israel and among Diaspora Jews.

The globalization process, improvements in the means of transportation and communication and the dissemination of multicultural absorption policies have contributed to the fact that more and more immigrants live in or maintain links to more than one country.

These migrants are defined in the professional literature as "transnational (multi-local) migrants". The globalization process has expanded the means through which the migrants remain economically, socially and politically involved with their sending countries

Rather than a move "from" places, migration today is characterized by a move between places. If in the past the Jews used to migrate in order "to be", currently more Jews are moving in order "to see".

Implications for Israel

Israel is also affected by the new trends in international migration. Larger proportions of the immigrants arriving in Israel continue to maintain multi-local links between their countries and communities of origin and Israel.

Researchers have argued that at least a 20 percent of the North American and nearly half of French immigrants arriving to Israel in the last few years are multi-local. Researchers already claimed the existence of multi-local Russian immigrants to Israel and abroad (Canada, US, Germany), and although there are no clear cut numbers on their statistics, it is clear that the number of Russian immigrants spending some time in Israel and in Russia is on the increase.

Multi-local immigrants in Israel engage in different practices. The most frequent travelers do so on a weekly basis in order to work in their country of origin and return to spend the weekend in Israel; some engage in less frequent travel and spend only one week a month in their country of origin. Some migrants might completely refrain from traveling but manage entire transnational enterprises overseas.

These immigrants are highly skilled individuals engaging in liberal professions; high-tech; academics; professionals of the Jewish community or retirees whose families reside in Israel.

Analysis of these new trends is necessary in order to understand the implications new forms of multi-local aliyah and migration have over the Jewish families, the communities and the Israeli society.

The writer is a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute

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