|"The comprehensive support we received from the Jewish Agency for Israel was invaluable," says Hanan. |
Hanan Elkayim, age 39, was a successful businessman and well-known hairdresser in Paris. When his salon was destroyed with anti-Semitic graffiti, and his son's non-Jewish friend was told to keep away from their family, Hanan and his wife Doralice knew that it was time to make aliyah.
"Blatant anti-Semitism was our catalyst to return to our homeland. The comprehensive support we received from the Jewish Agency for Israel was invaluable," says Hanan.
Following in the steps of their forefathers, Hanan, Doralice and their three children came to Israel in January, 2003. The Jewish Agency's impact on assisting them has been invaluable. The Agency supported the family's move to Israel, paying for their flight and shipping costs. Through the "Aliyah 2000" program, in which delegations from the Jewish Agency reach out to potential immigrants in their country of origin, the Elkayims were able to find a direct municipal absorption (resettlement) program, in which they were assisted in finding housing, schooling for their children and employment opportunities in the city of Ashdod.
In beautifully spoken Hebrew, Hanan, a man with a traditional Jewish background, tells of his wonderful experience at his first home in the homeland, the Jewish Agency absorption center in Ashdod. "We greatly enjoyed living with immigrants from all over the world, fulfilling the 2,000 year old dream of the ingathering of the exiles. We felt the significance of our decision to be part of the historic rebuilding of the Jewish nation in its historical land."
|Hanan is now managing his own hair salon in Ashdod. |
The Elkayim's found a supportive network of friends, many of them from France, and decided to stay in Ashdod where they purchased their first home. They both enrolled in an ulpan (Hebrew class) and their children, ages six, five, and two, are adjusting well in their new schools and rapidly learning Hebrew.
The Elyakim's are also part of an innovative new Jewish Agency program, "At Home, Together" which pairs native Israeli families with new immigrant families. They were paired with Amir Amar, a successful lawyer and his family, who are warm and supportive and have been instrumental in helping them to overcome the challenges that they face as new immigrants.
Hanan is now managing his own hair salon in Ashdod. Doralice, an artist, has successfully opened her own studio. They exemplify the pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit of Jews who refuse to live in the shadow of anti-Semitism, and are coming home.