Change Region:New Zealand

Somebody to Lean On!

ICEJ helps to sponsor professional mentors for Jewish Immigrants

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Posted on: 
14 Aug 2020
Somebody to Lean On!

We all need somebody to lean on! This may sound like lyrics from a song, but these words ring true when you find yourself in a foreign country feeling completely overwhelmed by a different culture, especially if you barely know the language. Even simple tasks like making phone calls, reading a bill, or opening a bank account can suddenly become extremely challenging.

This is the case for so many new Jewish immigrants to Israel. Although the government provides some assistance to new arrivals, only a small percentage are taken to absorption centers which offer a softer landing. Having left family and friends behind, immigrants often feel alone and struggle to integrate into society. Many find their professional qualifications are not recognised in Israel. Needing to upgrade credentials or even change professions brings added stress to the job search – particularly for those still struggling to learn Hebrew.

Knowing these difficulties, the ICEJ is helping to sponsor four professional mentors across Israel who are currently counselling 55 immigrant families during their first years in the Land. “Appropriate assistance upon arrival can save families a lot of grief by helping them find opportunities and get on the right track from the start”, notes Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah.

Originally from South Africa, *Michael and *Leah and their two sons arrived in Israel in February 2019 and were sent to an absorption center in Beersheva. When we met them recently, they shared how their mentor had been a lifeline for them.

Settling their youngest son into school was very challenging. A quiet and introverted lad with few close friends, he suddenly found himself as the only English-speaking child in a Hebrew class filled with Russian-speaking immigrant children. The teacher also came from Russia and often gave explanations in Russian, so he missed out on learning and struggled to make friends. Before long, negative feelings about school and the family’s move to Israel began to creep in.

But when their mentor Lital came, she helped the family find a private Hebrew tutor. Soon, the son started making progress and friends, resulting in a much happier child. She also guided the eldest son through the bureaucracy of entering the army while also finding a temporary job.

In South Africa, the family could afford to live solely off Michael’s income, but in Israel this was not enough. With assistance, Leah also found work as an English teacher but soon lost it when Corona health rules shut down classes.

Lital told our AID team how complicated it is for new immigrants – especially during the Corona period. They already lack understanding on how to operate in the local culture, she explained, and once Corona hit any advances disappeared. They usually have no one to lean on, especially after leaving the absorption center.

“The truth is that the State doesn’t count immigrants now because there are so many other enormous and pressing needs”, Lital noted. “There is no specific help for them and their needs. Anyone working less than six months at their job when the crisis hit was laid off and are without an unemployment safety net to fall back on. Immigrants must put out a lot of effort to make it and it is not easy. You cannot just ignore the Corona crisis… it affects the whole integration process.”

Setting goals are an important part of the mentoring program, and despite some setbacks Michael and Leah are elated at each step of progress. Recently, they moved into their own apartment near other South African immigrants and are thrilled to have found a place in the neighbourhood they wanted. Leah described her relief to be there.

“We love being in Israel and are enjoying a new sense of freedom and security here. It is so wonderful to be able to walk home alone from the bus stop without fear”, she said.

Although they still have a long road ahead – learning Hebrew, finding the right job, getting settled in their new community – they are so grateful for the extra help and mentoring along the way, and look forward to exploring the country. Michael and Leah also added their warm thanks to all the Christian donors who made the mentoring program possible.

Meanwhile, *Dana is a 27-year old single mother to a four-year-old son with special needs. She made Aliyah from India as a teen with her parents, and now must live with them to make ends meet. In talking with her, another ICEJ-sponsored mentor discovered large gaps between Dana’s dreams for the future and her current situation. Together they set attainable financial goals, reviewed employment options, and explored her eligibility for other welfare benefits – such as a disability stipend for her son.

As a result, Dana has applied for public housing and rental assistance ahead of moving to her own place. Now an apartment search is underway, where the rent will be within her budget. Step-by-step, Dana is making a complete turn-around, reaching her goals and gaining self-confidence. Ready for a new chapter in her life, she also is overjoyed to have found a young man she hopes to marry soon.

The ICEJ is not only bringing Jewish people home to Israel, but also helping to plant them firmly in the Land – just as God promised to do (Jeremiah 32:41). Your giving ensures that newcomers like these are not alone, but have someone walking alongside them as they navigate the challenges of getting settled in Israel.

Please give today to the Aliyah and Absorption efforts of the ICEJ.

Donate Here: Immigrant assistance
 

[*Names have been changed to protect privacy.]

 

Share this: