Nefesh B’Nefesh Celebrates 10 Years

from The Jerusalem Post:

After 10 years, Nefesh B’Nefesh looks back, forward

When NBN first appeared on the aliya scene in 2002, it was the ambitious new-kid-on-the-block, out to challenge the authority of the Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry. Confident that it could do much better than the cumbersome system in place at the time, NBN immediately introduced many streamlining measures, both large and small.

It helped cut red tape by bringing bureaucrats overseas to start citizenship procedures abroad.

It also put newcomers in touch with employers and health insurance providers and its employees – the vast majority of whom are themselves immigrants – and helped organize countless social events to provide the new arrivals with a sense of community.

“The recognition is that aliya from North America is not the same as from other places,” said NBN executive vice president Danny Oberman, explaining why so much is invested in olim from North America. “It is an aliya by choice.”

Encouraging people to move to Israel is one battle, getting them to stay is another. Over the years, countless Western immigrants who came to Israel hoping to start anew eventually returned due to the difficulties of acclimatizing to a place where the average salary is still about half of that in the US and serious social conflicts and wars with neighbors flare up on occasion.