The Jewish Agency will create a special fund to "support the urgent unmet needs of lone, young, vulnerable immigrant soldiers and students," according to the resolution that was passed by the board of governors at an assembly meeting in Jerusalem on Monday.
Other active resolutions adopted by the board of governors were for the further development of cooperative relationships designed to increase aliya, support for long-term Israel programs for Diaspora youth, and the expansion of partnership programs between Israel and the Diaspora.
The $26 million fund will be distributed over two years through a newly-established committee headed by former judge Dr. Eliyahu Benograt, in partnership with the United Israel Appeal and the United Jewish Communities (UJC). It will benefit immigrant students and soldiers, 16 and older, who have been living in the country for less than seven years.
"We wanted to do something big and this is a big thing," said a Jewish Agency spokesman. There are about 3,000 lone immigrant soldiers and about 6,000 lone immigrant students in Israel, the spokesman added, saying, "They have a lot of difficulties, and we want to help them as much as we can."
Being alone in Israel requires a lot of extra help, said one lone soldier in attendance.
"The hardest thing about being here alone is coping with daily life. I don't have anyone to help me decide what to do, or to take care of me when I am sick, or to help me financially," said Alexandra, who made aliya from Buenos Aires, Argentina, two years ago. "It's very hard."
Alexandra is stationed near Ramallah.
But she will complete her service in the IDF in three months, and she is worried about her future. She intends to go to school, where the Student Authority will pay for her tuition.
But Alexandra is concerned about covering the housing and living expenses she will require in order to study full-time.
That's where the new fund will come in.
"This new money will help me buy food and clothes," said Alexandra with a smile. "It will give me a feeling of security just to know that, even if I don't have enough time to work one month, there will be another source of money to help me get along."
"We are targeting a critical time in the absorption process," said the spokesman, who added that the agency intends to begin a campaign to raise money for the cause above and beyond the initial $26 million figure.
"If, during this critical time new immigrants are confronted with tough economic challenges, they will carry those challenges with them throughout the course of their lives in Israel.
If, however, they have a good absorption at this critical time in their lives, they can have a chance at becoming successful."
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