ICEJ Canada is involved with a vital absorption project, providing professional mentors to personally assist new Jewish Olim (immigrants) from many different countries acclimatize to their new home and community.
This is particularly important right now during the Covid 19 season because it complicates so many things for brand new arrivals. The ICEJ has partnered with the Jewish Agency for 30 years and is dedicated to continuing to help.
Since our founding in September 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has assisted more than 150,000 Jews to make Aliyah to Israel. That represents more than ten percent of the Jews who made the journey home to Israel in the past four decades. They are coming from the north, south, east and west – just as the Bible promises.
Once they arrive in Israel, many of them need tremedous support, which is why ICEJ Canada has sponsored this special "Mentoring Project".
Each of the trained mentors we support will work closely with up to 20 families for two to five years depending on their needs after they have left the absorption centre. The acclimatization process takes a long time and there are different needs at different stages.
Mentors tailor their help to each individual family, sometimes with the language, finding homes, jobs, and schools for their children. They may need further help to learn the monitary system, basic budgeting and grocery shopping, to complete government forms even how to navigate the transit systems.
As to the amounts required to assist through mentoring. There are differing amounts required - depending on the need, when they came into the program, and why. Also depending on which country they are arriving from. The range is usually between CAD $3,500- CAD $7,500 per family.
The success stories are wonderful to read:
Dana (name changed for privacy from India) is a single woman, aged 27 of the Bnei Menashe community. She has struggled with her integration process and is a single parent raising her special needs son on her own.
There are some things that must remain “confidential” in this process. However, I learned that there are things that one does not talk about in Indian culture. Having said this, from the beginning intake meeting, and along the way, Dana revealed much about herself, her personality, needs and desires/dreams. Large gaps remain between her ambitions/desires and the actualization of them. All of this came up in our mentoring meetings – and a number of these desires became goals for Dana to try to achieve them.
To advance Dana in her goals, we set out to investigate and help her make some practical steps for improvement.
- In the area of financial management – she succeeded in making many changes which represent a complete turn-around.
- In the area of employment, we checked out her needs and explored her opportunities.
- In the area of realization of her rights - she is now on a list waiting for public housing. We also checked if she was eligible for rental assistance as a preparation for moving into own apartment.
- We also focused a lot of time in determining the special needs of her son and what could be done to address them. Now, we are exploring the possibility of her son receiving a disability pension. In this regard, she made some important steps forward which she had avoided while on her own. As part of this process, Dana also began looking for an appropriate apartment that would suit the special needs of her and her son while remaining within the budget allocated for this.
- Dana also began a diagnostic process that would help her receive assistance towards continuing her studies with the goal of developing herself in a profession and finding appropriate employment.
- At the same time, Dana increased her self-awareness and self-confidence. This process also enabled her to recognize areas of weakness in how she viewed herself and her abilities. This new recognition enabled her to process how she viewed herself and she slowly began to increase her self-confidence. She should be able to move now in a good direction.
Michael and Leah, from South Africa
When they in February 2019 with their two sons they went to the Nurit Absorption Center in Beersheva, but they have recently moved into their own apartment in exactly the place that they had hoped to live.
In South Africa they always felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Whereas in Israel, they feel more hope. Neither Michael or Leah (names changed for privacy) have degrees – and without the language, you can imagine the difficulty to adjust and find employment. Fortunately, by word of mouth Michael found work installing kitchens in a small private business. He also does carpentry. Leah found work briefly as an English teacher, but lost her job with the corona crisis.
“We were very grateful for the mentoring. It is a lot of help to have someone to ask questions of, to inform you and give important information or show you where to go. They show you how things work. They advise you of what you can or can’t do. They help you set goals and keep you on track. It is nice to check off your list and see progress.”
This family also needed assistance for their children – settling different issues with schools and working through possible army service and/or employment for their oldest son. The bureaucracy has been problematic and a bit of a maze for them to sort out. They were repeatedly so grateful for the mentor who guided them in this process. The youngest son is quiet and introverted. He doesn’t like the spotlight. He is accustomed to a small circle of close friends more than a large group of friends. He felt lost in a sea of Russians in his language class. Apparently he was the lone English speaker among many Russian immigrants. The teacher also spoke Russian – so there was a lot of extra explanation in Russian that he missed out on and then didn’t know what was going on. He started to lose motivation and have a negative feeling about the move. The mentor helped them find a suitable private Hebrew language tutor which means that he has started to progress. Slowly, he began to connect with first one friend and now a few more – so the situation is starting to change.
As their mentor, Lital, shared – “Immigrants arriving at this time, once they leave the absorption center, are pretty much on their own. If they run into trouble, it is difficult. They are at the bottom of the list of government concerns right now with more than a million Israelis unemployed, businesses collapsing and so much more…” So, this aid is critical!
Michael and Leah love being in Israel and feel really blessed. They are so thankful for the assistance they’ve received and feel very fortunate. There is still a lot of work to do to help them become well established, however, they are continuing to work closely with the mentor and are confident that they will succeed.
They also point out what a gift it is for them to feel safe on the streets. The fact that Leah could go out for shopping, work or whatever without fear is a huge gift – this is something that they haven’t been accustomed to! So, they are excited, blessed, and optimistic! They moved out of the absorption center into a new neighborhood during the corona crisis (just before Passover). Now that they are getting more settled, they hope to settle on a synagogue to be a part of that will give them community.
Thank you so much for helping us help these families!
ICEJ Canada sincerely appreciates your prayers & support for this project!