Israel to offer special benefits for Maccabiah athletes that decide to make aliyah

Among the benefits offered to them is assistance with scholarships for university studies and a special 150-hour course for learning professional Hebrew.

 Entrance to the Kfar Maccabiah.  (photo credit: FELICE FRIEDSON/THE MEDIA LINE)
Entrance to the Kfar Maccabiah.
(photo credit: FELICE FRIEDSON/THE MEDIA LINE)

Ahead of the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah Games on Thursday, the Aliyah and Integration Ministry on Wednesday announced it is offering a special absorption benefits package for Maccabiah athletes who choose to immigrate to Israel following the games.

The 21st Maccabiah Games are being held in Israel from July 12-26, and about 10,000 Jewish athletes from 60 countries are expected to attend.

“Maccabiah participants are a key target audience for activities on the subject of encouraging aliyah,” the ministry said. “For most Maccabiah athletes, this will be their first visit to Israel, and therefore, we at the Aliyah and Integration Ministry see a special opportunity to encourage potential olim to immigrate to Israel following the Maccabiah Games events.”

According to the Maccabi movement, about 5% of the Maccabiah athletes choose to make aliyah to Israel in the months after the games take place. Therefore, the ministry has built a special package of benefits for anyone who chooses to immigrate to Israel following the Maccabiah.

Among the benefits offered are assistance with scholarships for university studies, a special 150-hour course for learning professional Hebrew (in addition to the regular ulpan courses for olim) and assistance in promoting placement for athletes and coaches. They will be able to apply for a one-time grant given to athletes who make aliyah, but since they participated in the Maccabiah, they will receive a double grant and a monthly stipend of NIS 1,000 for their first nine months in Israel.

Athletes and entrepreneurs

In addition, special assistance will be provided to entrepreneurs who immigrate to Israel following the Maccabiah. The purpose of the program is to encourage entrepreneurs to make aliyah and establish a business in Israel. Over the past few months, 66 athletes who will be participating in the current Maccabiah Games have made aliyah, the ministry said.

UKRAINIAN OLIM arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport last month. (credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)UKRAINIAN OLIM arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport last month. (credit: YOSSI ZELIGER/FLASH90)

“As in every few years during the Maccabiah Games, thousands of Jews from all over the world will come to Israel and have a significant opportunity to meet the Israeli reality, get to know the country, travel in it and strengthen its affinity for it,” Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said.

She said she “congratulates the Maccabiah team led by world chairman Amir Peled and sees the Maccabiah as a golden opportunity to encourage the athletes who will fall in love with Israel to immigrate to Israel and become Israelis. Israel is the home of all the Jews of the world.”

"As in every few years during the Maccabiah games, thousands of Jews from all over the world will come to Israel and have a significant opportunity to meet the Israeli reality, get to know the country, travel in it and strengthen its affinity for it."

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano Shata

Maccabi World Movement chairman Amir Peled said: “The Maccabiah has set a goal of bringing the Jews of the Diaspora to the State of Israel, to connect people through sports. Israel is becoming one big Olympic village. About 10,000 athletes from about 60 countries from all over the world will come to experience and compete, and out of the thousands of athletes, about 5% choose to immigrate and establish their home in Israel every Maccabiah.”