On Sunday, over 400 finance-conscious olim (immigrants) flocked to the Nefesh B’Nefesh campus in Jerusalem to attend a financial literacy event co-hosted with the Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group.
The conference was the first of its kind, held with the goal of helping olim achieve financial empowerment in their new home country, with sessions on financial planning, maximizing savings and making the Israeli financial system work to one’s benefit.
The event is the brainchild of Living Financially Smarter in Israel’s founder Rifka Lebowitz, a certified financial planner with more than 20 years of experience in Israeli finance and banking. After pitching the event to Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization worked with her to evolve the concept from a simple seminar into a day-long event, with featured speakers and experts including Avner Stepak, owner and vice chairman of Meitav Investment House; Alon Katz, director and deputy CEO of Be The Bank – BTB Israel; and Danny Newman, senior agent and branch manager at Goldfus Insurance.
“There is such a thirst for good financial knowledge, people want the full picture of how things work financially in general and specifically in Israel. Beyond sharing practical advice, and answering thousands of questions a month, I wanted to give the financially smarter community more – and with this, the idea for a full-day conference was born,” said Lebowitz.
Lebowitz’s Facebook group is a household name for many olim, having accumulated over 35,000 followers since its creation in 2009. According to her, its creation was necessary “to fill the void” of accessible financial advice for newcomers in the country.
What was the goal of the conference?
By hosting this event, Nefesh B’Nefesh intends to further its goal of providing its olim with programming that can assist with their acclimation process. “Our goal on an ongoing basis is to assist our olim to be as informed as possible in order to make the best choices for themselves and their families in their new lives in Israel,” said head of events and programming of Nefesh B’Nefesh Sarah Kantor.
“Making aliyah is one of the most significant decisions in one’s life, and once newcomers have arrived and settled in, there are still critical decisions that need to be made. This conference helped hundreds of olim answer burning questions about their personal finances and will hopefully put them on a path to achieve a greater understanding of how to navigate the financial world in Israel,” Kantor said.
"This conference helped hundreds of Olim answer burning questions about their personal finances and will hopefully put them on a path to achieve a greater understanding of how to navigate the financial world in Israel.”Sarah Kantor
Following the successful maiden voyage of the conference, the event’s organizers intend to hold similar events in the coming year in order to further assist olim who need extra financial know-how and practical knowledge.
“Working together with Nefesh B’Nefesh, I see this conference as just the beginning. This is our opportunity to help people further their financial literacy and empower them to make better, more informed decisions about their money,” Lebowitz said. “This is a community full of people who want to live their best quality of life here, who want to save for retirement and events, and reach their financial goals in the smartest way.”