Solving the crisis in Hebrew studies

To help the thousands of immigrants waiting for an ulpan spot, Open University will partner with the Lauder Employment Center in the Negev.

PERFECTING HEBREW at an ulpan. (photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)
(photo credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

More than 3,600 immigrants waiting for openings in the Ministry of Education’s advanced ulpan have joined a new emergency program for learning Hebrew being offered by the Lauder Center for the Advancement of Employment in the Negev, in collaboration with “Dialogue,” a language school of external studies at the Open University. Many of those who are waiting arrived in the past year from Russia and Ukraine, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

The program is intended for graduates of a basic ulpan who have not yet integrated into the advanced ulpan and is intended to provide a language tool for integration into the labor market.

This week, 32 new immigrants joined the first class of the Lauder Center and Dialogue’s Hebrew course. In 2022, 74,400 new immigrants immigrated to Israel, most of them from Russia and Ukraine who arrived due to the war, which created unusual congestion and long lines for government Hebrew ulpan programs.

Absorption and integration

Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt, President of the Open University, said, “The Open University is proud to be a partner in a program that helps new immigrants learn the Hebrew language, thereby facilitating the process of their absorption and integration into Israeli society and the world of employment.”

The emergency plan is part of a series of initiatives by the Lauder Center to promote employment in the Negev, which was established by Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and the Jewish National Fund – USA, to assist new immigrants.

 Ron Lauder. (credit: WJC) Ron Lauder. (credit: WJC)

With the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine, the Center, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, began to operate the “Immigrants to the Negev” program, which helps new immigrants from Russia and Ukraine integrate into employment in the Negev and establish their homes in the area.  

“The crisis of Hebrew studies today prevents many immigrants from integrating into the world of employment in the professions in which they were trained,” said Tali Tzur Avner, Chief of Staff of JNF-USA in Israel. “Only if we, as a society, learn from the new immigrants and cultivate their occupation in professions in which they have accumulated knowledge and experience, will the absorption of this aliyah be able to serve as a springboard forward for Zionism and the State of Israel.”