Layoffs at Nefesh B’Nefesh due to fund-raising dip

Not-for-profit organization that facilitates aliya fires 15 staff members, slashes salaries across board despite rise in number of immigrants.

nefesh olim cool 298.175 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
nefesh olim cool 298.175
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Nefesh B’Nefesh, the not-for-profit organization that facilitates aliya from North America, fired 15 staff members and slashed salaries across the board, despite the rise in the number of immigrants to Israel from the US and Canada in 2010, an official said Sunday.
Nefesh B’Nefesh marketing director Yael Katzman said the measures were made in response to a dip in fund-raising caused by the global recession.
“When we were evaluating for 2011, we realized we had to cut our annual budget so that we could ensure our services,” she said. “It’s an across-the-board cut. We’ve done a full evaluation of the staff and the staff in place is working harder and everyone is going to try harder.”
She added that the cuts would not affect any of the services it offers newcomers to Israel.
“We might increase our Skype meetings and use the Web more as one means of saving money,” she said.
Nefesh B’Nefesh has been credited for streamlining the cumbersome process of immigrating to Israel for North American Jews. Since its foundation in 2002, the number of immigrants from that part of the world to the Jewish state has more than doubled from 1,815 in 2002 to 3,992 in 2010, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.
However, the number of immigrants from North America has stagnated over the past year at just below the 4,000 mark and critics say Nefesh B’Nefesh has fallen far short of its stated goal of significantly boosting aliya, despite the use of relatively large resources.
Many of the innovations introduced by Nefesh B’Nefesh, like beginning the bureaucratic procedures for olim in their country of origin, have been applied by the Jewish Agency for Israel in its handling of Jewish immigration from other Western countries such as France.