New program allows in-flight aliya processing

It is 21st century technology being applied in a bureaucratic environment.

nefesh b nefesh 88 (photo credit: )
nefesh b nefesh 88
(photo credit: )
This summer, Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Interior Ministry have started using a new electronic system on the aliya organization's flights that allows immigrants to check their documents and to submit requests for Israeli identification cards while still on the airplane. "I bring the office to them," said Sasi Katzir, head of the ministry's Population Registry. The new system was introduced Thursday, on the first Nefesh B'Nefesh/Jewish Agency flight of the summer. For it to work, the necessary immigration documents must be prepared by Nefesh B'Nefesh personnel weeks in advance of the flight. Immigrants' information is entered on forms, which are scanned into a Tablet PC. The documents are then available for review by the immigrant during the flight. If all the information is accurate, the documents are signed and a request for an identification card is submitted. If an oleh wishes to change his information, for example legally changing his name, he can do so in flight with the help of Ministry of the Interior employees. "In the past, the documentation was written out and reviewed on the flight. But it was very hard to keep track of all the documents and it was physically tiring to fill them out," said Danny Oberman, executive VP for Israel operations at Nefesh B'Nefesh. "This is a private initiative in conjunction with a government agency," said Oberman. "The Interior Ministry was very supportive and helpful in providing us with whatever we needed." The first use of the new technology seems to have been a success. "According to the staff and the ministry, it went remarkably well. It's 21st century technology being applied in a bureaucratic environment, and the improvement in work flow and efficiency is very significant," said Oberman. Olim on the flight agreed that the new process was a success. "I've never made aliya before, so I don't know how it was before this year," joked new Israeli Eleanor Gehr, "but I was very impressed by the system's efficiency." Within two days, the immigrants should receive their ID cards, whereas under the old system, it took several weeks. "We all went in with some trepidation that it wouldn't work, but the initial results were exceptional," said Oberman.