October 14, 2009 / 26 Tishrei, 5770
The future has arrived. Yesterday, a new immigrant landed at Ben Gurion Airport, and today, in a first-rate Jerusalem hotel, he is completing his process of absorption with all the various agencies, including: the Ministry of the Interior, the government-sponsored health services, banks, cellular phone companies, employment agencies, and others. Veteran immigrants look on, pinching themselves to see if maybe this is just a dream.
The atmosphere in the Shalom Hotel in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan neighborhood was like that of a carnival. Sitting around wide tables were, on one side, representatives from the various agencies, and, on the other side, the immigrants with their children, all of whom had already received – less than 24 hours after their arrival – their Israeli identification cards.
Across the large room sat representatives from Israel’s major banks, health services and cellular phone companies, presenting the immigrants – in their mother tongue – the conditions and possibilities being offered. The immigrants then decided which was right for them.
The organizers, Ariella Walla Laniado, Ofer Dahan and Tzipi Pincus, along with the numerous employees of the Aliyah Department who filled the room, expressed great satisfaction over the Fourth Express Aliyah Immigration Fair which had promised to shorten and simplify the absorption process – and did exactly that.
You receive the best and friendliest service, unparalleled among any other office or agency. Here, the red carpet is rolled out for you the moment you get off the plane,” said Ofer Dahan.
Two days ago, Maxim and Olga Happer, along with their young daughter Nastasia, from their native city of Donetsk, Ukraine, boarded a plane that brought them to Israel. Today, they are sitting in Jerusalem and receiving information about their apartment in Kiryat Bialik, where the father and sister live. “They’ve already received their identification cards and registered with all the agencies,” one of the officials reported. “They have even been in touch with local At Home-Together / Babait Beyahad representatives who will continue the absorption process in their new hometown. They’re all here, in the same place, and the shock of aliyah has been reduced thanks to the limited amount of uncertainty that they face.”
The immigrants also met with members of the “Aliyah Job Center,” which has recently found 3,000 jobs for new immigrants – no small accomplishment in today’s economic climate.
The hands of Ariella Walla Laniado – who is in charge of accompanying new immigrants and organized the event together with Iris and Benny Buzgelo and the staff of the Jewish Agency – are, as we might expect, quite full. It all happened overnight, and the place looked like an immigration and absorption carnival from a different world. Just amazing.