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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The romantic dream of making aliya has not lived up to expectations for many, a recent survey seems to indicate, as more immigrants are leaving Israel and moving back to their native countries. This has been the case so much so, that the Immigration and Absorption Committee met to discuss the issue in the Knesset today.
Golan Canaan, a graduate student at the Hebrew University and new immigrant, identified many of his problems as administrative and language-barrier oriented.
"The process of getting health insurance in this country was disastrous. The lines and lack of communication are tough to deal with. You just can't have North American expectations when dealing with Israeli administration or customer service," Canaan said. He, like many, knows people who couldn't handle Israel and felt compelled to leave. "My friend could not handle the language barrier and to make matters worse, had no family in Israel. Having no family really compounded her problems." Canaan said.
Canaan, a native English speaker who plans to open up a bilingual integrated day care, empathizes with his friend and identifies his classmates as "a great support system and a great help with some of the Hebrew documentation at school."
Yael Katsman, director of communications at the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliya organization, says, "Our rate of immigrant retention is 99 percent, and we are very satisfied."
Nefesh B'Nefesh provides a wide-range of support to new immigrants by way of financial aid, social work and general social services. "We check in on them regularly and make sure everything is okay."
Katsman is not singing the same tune as the Immigrant and Absorption Committee. She is optimistic and saying that "aliya is on its way up and it's sustainable. We have lots of informational seminars taking place right now throughout North America and the UK. We are seeing families being reunited. One member makes aliya and then siblings, parents and cousins follow them."
Amidst the optimism within the aliya industry, the question still remains: Who is emigrating? Ian Estreicher, a graphic designer from Toronto, has a friend who left Israel after getting married. "My friend married a girl with the understanding that they were going to stay. But as the bills piled up and the cold realities of raising kids in a war zone set in, the prospect of leaving for America looked more attractive. His wife also loved the bigger shopping malls in Memphis," Estreicher said.