• A member of the Rabbinic Cabinet photographs Doctor Lena with her copy of Mamonides 'Prayer for Doctors'

    Margot Saffer
  • The Jewish Agency's Director of Donor Relations & Missions, Rebecca Stern, addresses the Rabbinic Cabinet at Beit Canada in Ashdod

    Margot Saffer
  • The Rabbis and the Doctors

    Margot Saffer

Rabbinic Cabinet blesses immigrant physicians

“This place is amazing, I'd like to do an ulpan here"

ASHDOD, ISRAEL – Members of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America blessed a group young doctors who have made Aliyah from the FSU, in a meeting held at the Beit Canada Absorption Center in Ashdod, on February 10th.

Galina, 30, wanted to make Aliyah since she first visited family in Israel from Smolensk, Russia when she was twelve.

"I felt already then that Israel was my place," she said. "Since then, I had the dream but I did not have the money, opportunity, nor the support. It is only thanks to this program that I could make my dream come true."

While noting that, "there have been challenges; my dream was born when I was a child, and now I am an adult," Galina added that she felt "supported by The Jewish Agency," and said she was sure she made the right decision.

Israel is in need of about 200 new doctors annually, and this particular program is designed especially towards their needs. The program includes accommodation for the doctors and their families, five months of Hebrew-language instruction, an additional ulpan focusing on medical terms, a five-month course to prepare for the Israeli medical licensing exam, and assistance in applying for residencies.

“This place is amazing, I'd like to do an ulpan here,” said Kiev-born Rabbi Tina Grimberg of Darchei Noam, Toronto's Reconstructionist Synagogue.

In addition to all the career assistance, new immigrants also enjoy cultural and sports activities at the center, as well as trips around the country in order to get better acquainted with Israel, and potential places of employment. The program liaises with medical-field firms who can offer positions for the olim. The doctors also serve in the IDF in a professional capacity up to the age of 32.

>Another medical practitioner, Lena, first found out that she was Jewish at the age of 14. In the Ukraine, her grandfather heard about a Jewish Agency summer camp and encouraged her to attend. There she heard about Na'ale where young Jews from around the world are afforded the opportunity to finish their schooling in Israel and subsequently lived on Kibbutz Ketura as a high school student. She later returned to the Ukraine to study medicine, all the while knowing she would return to Israel as an olah.

The students have a range of experience and are at different stages of qualification. While some have at least ten years' experience in their specialties, others will do their first residency in Israel.

The rabbis met with the students and chatted with them in Hebrew, and visited their classrooms, whose walls are dotted with pictures of Hebrew-labeled physiological systems.

The Rabbinic Cabinet consists of over 1000 rabbis from all the major religious streams in America. One of the tenets of its overall mission is to give rabbis the tools to build community by actualizing the principle of Klal Yisrael, which stands alongside The Jewish Agency's vision of connecting the global Jewish family. In this light, the 33 rabbis came to connect their North American communities with Jews in Kiev, Ukraine, and with Israelis and new olim in Israel.

At the moving conclusion of the event, Rabbi Adam Kligfeld of the Temple Beth Am for Conservative Judaism in Los Angeles read Rambam's Prayer for Physicians in Hebrew, and Rabbi Grimberg gave the blessing in Russian.

12 Feb 2013 / 2 Adar II 5773 0
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Margot Saffer is an olah chadasha writing from Jerusalem, Margot holds degrees in English, Media, and Psychology (cum laude), and a MPhil in Life-Writing. Her poetry, prose, journalism, and academic work have been published in three languages, on four continents. Her interests are social activism, giving voice to minority populations, and personal profiles.