Many years ago, on day one of Ulpan – Kitah Aleph, our excellent and high-strung Sabra instructor told us the first word we needed to learn and understand was Protecxia. As a room full of 20-somethings, with at least half planning Aliyah, we were made to understand that grasping this concept was as important as the Hebrew skills she would impart to us over the next six months if we were to have a successful klitah here in Israel.
Fast far forward to today and another one of the innovative projects to come forth from this summer’s cohort of the PresenTense Institute is
Protecxia: Immigration Integration Initiative
Founded by Erin Kopelow, a recent Olah and Jerusalem resident, whose first experience in Israel was with a one-year MASA volunteer program, Protecxia takes this long-standing concept and updates it for the 21st Century.
Protecxia’s goal is to effectively integrate immigrants as well as potential-immigrants between the age of 20 to 35 into Israeli society and culture through a network of people and activities.
In Erin’s own words:
“Each year, hundreds of young people from English speaking countries arrive in Israel as immigrants or near-immigrants (individuals in Israel actively contemplating Aliyah). Limited to foreigner “bubbles,” these two demographics face network isolation, a challenge that limits their social and professional advancement, encumbers their linguistic development, and dilutes the degree of their long-term integration into Israeli society. Frustrated with their perceived limited opportunity in Israel, many near-Olim return to their country of origin, while those who have made Aliyah often feel isolated from mainstream Israeli society and limited in their social and professional mobility.
In Israel a social network is the most important asset a new immigrant can have in regards to integration and job accessibility. Yet, the traditional strategy of immigration and absorption in Israel has been one of isolation. Both the development town and the merkaz klita separate immigrants from mainstream Israeli society, limiting social interaction and integration while encumbering the natural development of linguistic skills. New immigrants from Western societies typically arrive to Israel with professional skills and ambition but those who do not enter the Israeli army remain isolated from mainstream society due to social and linguistic barriers. Understanding this reality, Protecxia propels new immigrants into mainstream Israeli society by opening social networking channels as soon as possible and exposing memebers to contemporary Israeli culture through workshops, tours, and volunteering opportunities.”
Keep Protecxia on your radarscope – after all, this earlier form of a social network predates Facebook by decades! And if you are in Israel, Erin has a real cool event planned for October 29th in Tel Aviv, Street Art as a Cultural Dialogue.
Don’t forget to check out some other projects from this summer’s PresenTense cohort here.