Jewish Agency holds aliya expos across N. America

There will be ‘all the possible answers for all the possible questions,” says JAFI official.

Jewish Agency Aliya expo 311 (photo credit: David Karp)
Jewish Agency Aliya expo 311
(photo credit: David Karp)
NEW YORK – Riding a wave of increased aliya, the Jewish Agency for Israel is hosting a series of major immigration expos across North America this week.
At a gathering billed as the largest of its kind, some 1,000 people were expected to turn out at the kick-off event in New York on Sunday, where olim were to learn, one-on-one and in groups, about Hebrew-language programs, housing, health care and absorption.
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Expos will also take place in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington and Toronto.
“More or less, you’re going to have in one room all the possible answers for all the possible questions to different aspects of living in Israel,” said Liran Avisar, head of the Jewish Agency’s aliya delegation in North America, and an organizer of the expo.
At the New York event, Avisar expected a high turnout of singles and young families. The Jewish Agency was to host a wine and cheese reception in the afternoon for young professionals, with presentations focusing on the economy and education.
She said two “segments” of olim can benefit from the expo: those finalizing their plans and those beginning to research aliya. For those already close to moving, the expo offers a place to ask questions about banking, small business support, medical insurance, taxes and shipping. Nefesh B’Nefesh also will be on hand to present its programs.
Avisar attributed the high turnout expected for Sunday to good marketing and a “general increase in interest in aliya.”
Tracey Goldstein, 22, plans to move to Israel on July 6 and has already applied for an MBA program.
A New York event planner who also works in real estate, Goldstein fell in love with Israel during a Birthright Israel trip. She coordinated her aliya plans with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
“I’ll miss them,” she said of members of her family – who have never been to Israel, “but this is so important to me.”
On Sunday, she hoped to get a few last answers to questions, such as transferring funds and financing school.
“Little questions,” she said, “to wrap things up and finish the whole process.”
Goldstein added that she hopes to open a business in Israel after she graduates.
“The way Israel is going to survive is if it becomes an economic power, so I’d like to start a business there,” she explained.
Estimates vary, but Jewish Agency officials said some 4,000 people are expected to make aliya this year. In 2009, 3,800 olim arrived in Israel from North America, up from 3,200 in 2008.
“I think we’ll cross the 4,000 [mark] this year,” said Avisar, who pointed out consistent increases in the past few years.
Last year’s numbers were buoyed by new absorption programs – including expanded ulpans and a new program for English teachers – and by the economy.
“Before, they didn’t find the timing was right,” she said.