Absorption Ministry honors olim who made immigration easier for others

Eight individuals awarded for their outstanding volunteer work.

January 14, 2017 16:19
3 minute read.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver with the volunteers awarded for their outstanding volunte

Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver with the volunteers awarded for their outstanding volunteer work in the field of absorption, at the Nalaga'at Center in Jaffa on Wednesday evening. (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE IMMIGRANT ABSORPTION MINISTRY)

The Nechmad family made aliya from Paris in 2004, but their possessions did not arrive with them, due to a two-month strike at Ashdod Port.

“We didn’t have anything apart from our little suitcase,” Reuven Nechmad told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Reuven and Line Nechmad receive awards from Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa LandverChannel 10 reported on their plight and interviewed Reuven and his wife, Line.

Their children were seven and 13 at the time.

“My wife was very emotional, she was crying,” Reuven recalls.

The next day the Nechmads were inundated with phone calls from all over the country with offers of furniture and other items. Though the couple didn’t accept the kind offers, it was a defining moment in their lives in Israel.

Noting the effort people took to track down their phone number and contact them, Reuven says, “it touched us so much that we said we would also give our time and effort [to help others].”

Ever since, Reuven and Line have been involved in numerous initiatives to help French-speaking olim adapt to their new lives in Israel, particularly in Ra’anana, where they live, and where there is a large French-speaking community.

It started with an informative email group, circulating essential information that immigrants may not understand otherwise due to the language barrier. The group expanded rapidly, and inspired the couple to establish a magazine, Ma Yech, which has both print and online editions.

The magazine features articles about the economy and culture. “We think it’s important for French olim to get to know the country better, but also to maintain contact with the rest of the world,” explains Reuven. “It reaches some 90% of the French olim in Ra’anana, but also other cities.”

The couple also help to build bridges within the immigrant community as well as with veteran Israelis, and with institutions in the city. In addition, while Lynn is dedicated to helping olim with various welfare issues, Reuven, a successful businessman, draws on his experience to guide other budding entrepreneurs to make it in Israel.

“Everyone can open a door – if you don’t open door you don’t know what could be.

Open a door, and be positive,” he says.

The Nechmads were two of eight volunteers, along with four organizations, to receive awards from Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver on Wednesday evening, for their outstanding work in the field of absorption – each in a different area and community. The festive award ceremony took place at the Nalaga’at Center in Jaffa.

Among the other laureates were South African-born 84-year-old Annette Milliner- Giladi of Telfed – The South African Zionist Federation (Israel); and 79-year-old Dora Margolin, from the former Soviet Union, for her contribution to the Multi-Service Center for the Blind (MARSHAL).

Margolin, who made aliya in 1993, is known as the “mother” of the organization’s olim club in Haifa, supporting the 40 members however she can. Despite her own vision impairment, she accompanies the olim to various institutions and provides them with day-to-day assistance.

“I’m very happy to be here this evening,” said Margolin. “I ended up volunteering by a complete coincidence, but my desire not to sit on the sidelines but to try to give back – and not a little of myself – for what was done for me, brought about long years of activity which continues to this day.”

Said Landver, “The challenges facing olim are many, but the biggest is the loneliness and the sense of isolation which cannot be dissipated with money, a job or an apartment. The presence of volunteers in immigrants’ lives can make all the difference between a good absorption and difficulties and loneliness. Well done.”

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