Record 2,000 diaspora teachers apply to teach English in Israel

In previous years, TALMA averaged 600-1,000 teachers, though this year, over 2,000 teachers were accepted.

 Leila Kurman, English teacher from Baltimore (photo credit: COURTESY)
Leila Kurman, English teacher from Baltimore
(photo credit: COURTESY)

A record 2,000 teachers from the Jewish diaspora have applied to come to teach English in Israel via the TALMA Israel Program for Excellence in English – despite travel restrictions and fears regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

TALMA, the national program for excellence in English, offers teaching summer programs and full-year community programs.

In previous years, TALMA averaged 600-1,000 teachers, though this year, over 2,000 teachers were accepted. Israeli authorities are now working with the TALMA to enable the prospective educators to arrive in Israel amid travel restrictions.

"The decision of teachers from the Diaspora to establish educational communities in the periphery and in the local schools is not self-evident, certainly not in the Corona era. We see a direct connection between the increase in teachers and applications,” said Alon Futterman, CEO of TALMA. “We are proud that despite the corona, 40% of the TALMA teachers in the past school year decided to immigrate to Israel and continue to teach in schools as full-time Israelis," Futterman continued.

 Alon Futterman, CEO and founder of TALMA. (credit: NIR ARIELI) Alon Futterman, CEO and founder of TALMA. (credit: NIR ARIELI)

The record number of TALMA applicants comes as aliyah applications – requests to immigrate to Israel based on the “law of return” – reached record-highs in 2021. Over 27,000 Jewish immigrants became Israeli citizens in 2021, compared to 21,120 in 2020 and 35,651 in 2019 – the last year of immigration before the coronavirus pandemic.

"Last year I participated in the TALMA summer program, I taught English to students from Ashkelon and I was very satisfied with the work,” said Leila Kurman, a teacher from Baltimore, USA who is returning for the second year to the TALMA program. “After a long period of uncertainty following the coronavirus, working with the students was a special experience for me. I look forward to returning to Israel again in the coming year, looking forward to hard work."

The TALMA program was founded by the Schusterman and Steinhardt Family Foundations.

Michael Starr contributed to this report.