As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, the pace of activities to benefit new immigrants at the Lauder Center for the Advancement of Employment in the Negev is accelerating. The activities focus on two fronts: assisting the new immigrants in finding high quality employment and developing Hebrew language skills, without which they will have difficulty integrating into the new jobs. This year, the center has helped more than four hundred immigrants, many of whom have already integrated into the workplace.
“As an immigrant to Israel myself, I know how the language barrier and finding employment make it difficult to immigrate to Israel,” says Anat Bondarenko, director of the Lauder Center’s “Olim to the Negev” program, who made aliyah from Ukraine at the outbreak of the war. “The Lauder Center was able to identify these two challenges and reach out to immigrants at the most difficult moment, through a series of programs that help them integrate into employment in the professions in which they were trained in their home country. The immigrant populations that came to the Negev are academic and educated. To avoid repeating past mistakes, we must help the immigrants integrate and contribute, while appreciating their knowledge and expertise in various fields.”
The “Olim to the Negev” program was established immediately after the beginning of the wave of immigration at the outbreak of the war at the initiative of philanthropist and president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, and Jewish National Fund-USA. It was launched with the vision that if the current aliyah is properly integrated, it could dramatically boost settlement in the Negev and the Galilee. The Lauder Center quickly organized a large-scale employment fair with the participation of then-Minister of Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata and dozens of employers and company managers. Since then, the Center has accompanied many immigrants, individually and in groups, during interviews with companies in the Negev, meetings with HR managers and more, in order to open employment opportunities for them in the Negev.
In 2022, 74,400 new immigrants immigrated to Israel, most from Russia and Ukraine, creating unusual congestion and long lines for government-sponsored Hebrew ulpan classes. More than 3,600 immigrants are currently waiting for places in the Ministry of Education’s advanced Hebrew ulpan (Ulpan Bet). The Lauder Center expanded the response provided to immigrants and, together with the Dialogue School of Language Studies at the Open University, opened a new Hebrew learning program for immigrants, into which 32 immigrants have already integrated.