US olim 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
To smooth the transition for a recent group of South African immigrants, the Jewish Agency has devised a new way of catering for olim.
Instead of bringing olim to Israel, Israel was brought to the olim via an "aliya expo" in South Africa for experts in the fields of banking, schools and social security.
"This is a new concept of aliya," said Ofer Dahan, the Jewish Agency's outgoing representive for South Africa. "This way, anyone interested in aliya would be able to take out a mortgage, buy an apartment, make investment, do anything he wants to before he comes to Israel."
More than 100 South Africans made aliya on Sunday, and to ease the process, El Al officials set up in a local community center to check in the baggage early, which allowed olim to board their flight directly, resulting in reduced stress.
Post-aliya care has been stepped up, too. The Jewish Agency arranged for porters to collect the olim's luggage for them and then treated the new arrivals to a two-night stay in a Jerusalem hotel.
In a move to reduce bureaucracy, representatives of banks, national insurance, schools and the government met with the olim on Monday in their hotel, thus saving these new immigrants many hours of going back and forth processing paperwork. It is hoped that this procedure will serve as a model for future group flights of olim.