Friday, April 18, 2008


Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), is the primary agency, other than the Jewish Agency, for North Americans wanting to make Aliyah. In fact, Nefesh B’Nefesh has had discussions with the government of Israel to be allowed to handle the actual immigration paper work for North America, a job only the Jewish Agency can do at the current time.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in Aliyah to Israel, whether serious or just curious. This agency provides help and information on: financial matters including giving financial assistance to those who qualify; group Aliyah flights; pre-Aliyah help in planning, pilot trips, and navigating the application process with the government of Israel; employment information and help; answers to questions on absorption – klitah; guidance and community resources; and a vast amount of online resources.

The place to start with NBN is their website at From there, the range of services and information offered is staggering. The first stop you might want to make is the application page at From there you can download applications for the USA, Canada, and the UK. You will also find dates for when applications are due. Download you application and begin working on it right away, as it will take quite awhile to gather everything you need. While you are working on your application you can then spend time gaining information by browsing through the rest of the NBN site.

The first part of the application covers personal information such as who you are, parent’s names, children’s information, and your medical history/current information. Section 2 is Financial Planning. For this section you will need financial records, bank statements, loan statements, W2s and recent statement of income, and anything else that affects your finances. These will be taken to your accountant or CPA who must sign a financial affidavit. The planning part of this section is helpful in that it causes you to really look at what your expenses will be in moving and living.

Section 3 is a big one. This is you personal profile which is different than personal information in section 1. This section has questions about your: Jewishness; previous Israel experience; education; employment history and post aliyah employment plans; and requires you to answer a number of questions. These questions are: How long have you been considering making Aliyah? What (if any) family do you have in Israel? What (if any) other family members are considering Aliyah? List the four main reasons for your interest in making Aliyah. What do you see as your three biggest challenges once living in Israel? How would you address those challenges? What do you consider to be your strengths? List any stressful events you have experienced over the past two years.

Section 4 is the financial affidavit that goes with section 2. Section 5 asks for references; two local references and two Israeli references. Section 6 is a supporting essay. The instruction for that are: “Instructions: on a separate piece of paper, please provide any pertinent information that you believe will enhance your candidacy. Please describe yourself and be sure to highlight your reasons for making Aliyah as well as your post-Aliyah plans.” Section is the signature page and a disclaimer you will have to sign.

There are a number of documents that you will need to supply as well. Besides the completed application there are many other things to include. These are listed here:

1. Financial Affidavit (incl. your printed name, your
signature & the signature of your accountant).
2. Photo of each Oleh or one of entire family.
3. Application Fee ($36 USD or $50 CAD).
4. One original and one copy of application,
including all supplementary documentation.
5. Three identical, official passport photos of
each Oleh over 16. Please write name of
Oleh on back of each photo.
6. One photocopy of each Oleh's passport.
7. Copy of certificate of civil marriage, divorce,
or death, as applicable.
8. Copy of each Oleh's birth certificate.
9. Copy of a letter from your rabbi, or
conversion certificate and letter from
applicant, as applicable.
10. One letter of recommendation.
11. Supporting Statement.

As you can see, the NBN application process isn’t something you can do in an hour or two. It takes time and thought. Besides the completed application there is one other things that is required. That is a pilot trip to Israel for both husband and wife, or just yourself if you are single. NBN has information and people who can help you plan your pilot trip to get the most out of it.

NBN is in the business of encouraging successful aliyah and not failure. Even though their application process is lengthy with a lot of requirements, their success rate of helping make a successful aliyah is close to 100%. The application process is in itself a journey that helps prepare you for immigration to your new home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008



If you are from an English speaking county and planning to make Aliyah, or are just arm chair dreaming, the agencies listed below are your one stop shopping centers. These organizations have put together an incredible amount of information, and it is increasing and improving constantly. They all have many years of experience helping Olim in all phases of making Aliyah. Although each organization is geared to helping a specific population, the information on their web sites is invaluable to everyone. The next blog entry, Aliyah For Dummies - Step 4, will deal specifically with Nefesh B'Nefesh and the paper work involved.

The core mission of Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) is to revitalize Aliyah and to substantially increase the number of future olim by removing the financial, professional and logistical obstacles that prevent many individuals from actualizing their dreams. In the process of fulfilling our mission, we aim to educate and inspire the Jews of the Diaspora as to the centrality of the Jewish State to the Jewish people and its desirability as a Jewish home. Such enhanced awareness will send an unmistakable signal of Anglo-Israeli Jewish solidarity and of our mutual determination to strengthen the State of Israel and thereby increase the likelihood of an ever expanding Aliyah reality. (From NBN web site)

Telfed - the nickname for The South African Zionist Federation (Israel) preceded the birth of the State of Israel when we established an office in the twilight months of 1947, to assist the brave young men and women from South Africa who volunteered to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. Over the ensuing decades we have grown from strength to strength, servicing the needs and interests of our Southern African community throughout Israel. (From TELFFED web site)

The United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA) is UK Jewry’s commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.

UJIA, incorporating the British Olim Society, is the representative of UJIA in Israel and has a strong tradition of helping people, expressed through the implementation of UJIA initiatives and programmes throughout Israel.

UJIA is committed to the successful absorption of Olim into Israeli society and offer pre- and post- Aliyah advice. Help is available for all aspects of the Aliyah and absorption process including advice on Aliyah rights, employment and financial assistance. In addition to British Olim, we are also proud to offer services to Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Scandinavians. (From UJIA web site)

The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) is a voluntary, Zionist organization serving approximately 120,000 North Americans living in Israel. We are dedicated to the successful absorption of these North American Israelis into Israeli society. AACI actively encourages Aliyah, helps newcomers acclimate, provides ongoing services to veteran olim ("vatikim"), engages in programs to enhance the quality of life for all Israelis, provides social activities and works towards building stronger ties between North American Jewry and Israel. (From AACI web site)

Friday, January 18, 2008



A quick word here of who can make Aliyah from outside of Israel: Any Jew can make Aliyah. What is a Jew? A Jew (for purposes of Aliyah) is someone who was born to a Jewish mother, or someone who has converted (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform) or any person who has at least one Jewish grandparent. Non-Jewish spouses and children and spouses of children are also allowed to make Aliyah. Remember there is a burden of proof of Jewishness, a letter from a Rabbi. This is only a very short summary here, for more information contact your Shaliach from the Jewish Agency. Also, the definition of who is a Jew for purposes of Aliyah is different from the Orthodox definition which is much more stringent.


Forms, forms, and more forms. There are forms, which include both your and your whole family, and then each family member has their own forms. Actually once you get started it isn’t all that bad, it’s just getting that initial momentum going. The Aliyah Shaliach from the Jewish Agency will send you everything you will need to fill out with a list of Documents that also need to be supplied. If you don't yet have an Aliyah Shilach then you need to back up a step and get one. This was covered in Aliyah For Dummies - Step 1. You can find the Jewish Agency Aliyah office nearest you by looking on the following web page.

The first page of the forms is Oleh Chadash – Aliyah Checklist which is very helpful. Remember that Oleh means immigrant (olim is plural) and Chadash means new (Olim Chadashim is plural for New Immigrants). Use it, as it will help keep you a little more organized. Print a checklist for each person in your family. For some family members there will be items on the checklist they won’t have to do so just cross those items out. You also need other documentation including: Passport size photos of each person making Aliyah, including children; Photocopies of passports including all pages with stamps for entering and exiting Israel in the past 7 years; Copy of Civil Marriage/Divorce/Birth Certificates; and proof of Judaism which needs to be a letter from a Rabbi on Synagogue letterhead.

The Aliyah Questionnaire covers the head of the household, spouse and minor children. Children age 18 and older need to fill out their own Aliyah Questionnaire. This is basic information like name, passport number, date of birth, religious affiliation and so on. Attach passport pictures to the space provided on page two of the questionnaire.

The Entry-Exit Form is pretty self-explanatory. It is documenting each entry into Israel in the past seven years along with the dates. You can find the dates on the stamps in your passport then you will have to calculate the number of days, months, or years you were in Israel on each trip.

Waiver of Confidentiality essentially gives the Jewish Agency the right to medical information and government information that may have a bearing on your Aliyah for you, your spouse, and your children. Each adult needs to sign one of these. On the bottom there is a place for notarization however notarization is not required at this time.

The Health Declaration is very basic health information. If you take any medication you will need to make a list of what you are taking, dosage, and purpose. If you have any disabilities or long term illness you might want to include a doctor’s summary when you submit your papers. Basically they are checking for communicable diseases and other serious diseases or disabilities for which you may need special care.

The Oleh Declaration has two sections. The first section makes you aware of the four types of visas you can have to enter the country. Your Aliyah Shaliach will help explain these if you have any questions. The second section is a declaration that you have not resided previously in Israel or, if you have, it gives space for the pertinent information on dates, visa, identity number and so on. Each adult candidate needs to include two of these.

Finally we come to the Visa Application. This is pretty straightforward. If something doesn’t apply to your situation then leave it blank. There is one spot that is slightly confusing. Lines 10 and 11 refer to your passport. Line 10 is the passport number and line 11 is, in this order, where the passport was issued, the date it was issued, and the date it expires. If you read it from right to left it makes more sense than if you try to read it from left to right. Yes, it is in English but is thought out in Hebrew. Each Oleh needs to submit two copies of the completed Visa Application.

The cost for processing comes out to $50 per person.

Good, now you have everything signed, sometimes two signatures on the same page, dated, and ready to put in the mail. It is highly recommended that you make at least one copy of everything and two copies would be better. While you are making copies it is a very wise idea to make several copies of your passport to be kept in different places. If you ever loose your passport the copy will help in getting it replaced.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Aliyah for Dummies - Step 1

When I first started thinking about Aliyah I researched the Internet and found a lot of stuff out there. Sometimes though it is hard to see the trees through the forest. Where do I start?? How do I wade through all the information out there and get to the nuts and bolts? So, as I go through the process I will continue to post steps. Look for Aliyah for Dummies - Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and so on.

Probably the most helpful site to begin with is the Nefesh B'Nefesh web site which you can find at: One of the links you will find on the Nefesh B'Nefesh site is "Aliyah 101." That is excellent for helping you through the process. The following is taken directly from the mission statement on their site:

The core mission of NBN is to revitalize Aliyah and to substantially increase the number of future olim by removing the financial, professional and logistical obstacles that prevent many individuals from actualizing their dreams. In the process of fulfilling our mission, we aim to educate and inspire the Jews of the Diaspora as to the centrality of the Jewish State to the Jewish people and its desirability as a Jewish home. Such enhanced awareness will send an unmistakable signal of Anglo-Israeli Jewish solidarity and of our mutual determination to strengthen the State of Israel and thereby increase the likelihood of an ever expanding Aliyah reality.

NBN provides comprehensive support for olim by directly interfacing with them, both in the pre-and post-Aliyah stages. We offer financial assistance, employment resources, social services and guidance through governmental absorption procedures in order to help make each individual's Aliyah as successful as possible.

In 2006, NBN extended its Aliyah expertise and success experience in initial efforts to assist in boosting aliyah from the United Kingdom.

More on Nefesh B'Nefesh in future postings.


Before you can do anything you need to get an Aliyah Shaliach. A What? Aliyah Shlichim represent the Jewish Agency of Israel. This is the sole legal entity outside of Israel that can authorize an indivicual to make aliyah under Israel's Law of Return. It is the Aliyah Shaliach that gives approval for you to make Aliyah to Israel. They are a wonderful resource and will send you all the proper forms as well as lead you through the process. To get an Aliyah Shaliach, go to the Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah Shlichim Directy to find the nearest one to your area. The web address is:

My Aliyah Shaliach emailed me all the necessary forms I need at the beginning point along with information about some communities and absorption programs. In the next posting I will write about these.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ALIYAH - First Steps

A long time ago, before the advent of modern forecasting methods, there was a wizened old Indian who lived at the edge of town. The years had drawn maps on his brown leathery skin and his black hair had turned gray. Now, instead of chopping wood, others supplied the work to make his wood pile grow while he sat on his porch, talking to the younger men and boys, dealing out bits of wisdom. Each year during Fall time he would be asked what the winter was going to be like. Each year he would answer, “This winter will be long, cold, and dark.” Some people had thought he held the weather forecasting secrets of the ancients. Hoping to learn his secret, a particularly bright young man came to him one day. “Grandfather,” he said. “You have predicted that the winter would be long, cold, and dark, and it was. Your predictions have been correct every year since I have memory. What is the secret? How do you know what the winter is going to be like?” The dark brown eyes of the old man crinkled in a smile as he regarded his questioner. “Grandson,” said the old man, “winter is always long, cold, and dark.”

This past Fall I made a prediction about our winter. My prediction is turning out to be totally correct; it is turning into a long, cold, and dark winter! My prophetic powers amaze me. This morning the temperature outside in the dark Alaska winter is -8F / -22C. It will get light about 10:15 AM and in five and a half hours the sun will sink below the horizon as we descend into darkness once again. Before winter is over we will have experienced some bouts of at least -25F / -32C or colder. When it gets that cold I have to put on so many clothes just to take the dog for a walk I feel like the Marshmallow Man. For a few years I lived in Western Alaska on the Bering Sea coast. Three to four days a week the wind blows a steady 50-60 MPH / 80-96 KMPH. I used to tease the school children and tell them snow was made in China and they blew it over with big fans. Out there, snow doesn’t fall from the sky, it blows sideways.

Half a world a way, in Jerusalem, the temperature today is 57 F / 14C, sunrise is 6:34 AM and the sun doesn’t set for over ten hours. Wow!! That’s shirtsleeve weather and, to me, very exciting! When telling people in Israel I wanted to live in the Jerusalem area because I liked the weather, they would always say, “You don’t want to live there, it gets cold in the winter.” To that I say, “Define cold.”

So, here I am, in the icebox of the world, thinking of blue skies, warm breezes, and fresh bananas. A folder on my desk has ALIYAH written on it. My Shlichat Aliyah, from the Jewish Agency for Israel, has emailed me all the forms for making Aliyah. Questionnaires, declarations, visa applications, medical statements, waivers of confidentiality, entry/exit forms, and checklists of a zillion others pieces of information and documentation I need to supply, all waiting for my attention over the next few days. Actually, it is not as difficult as I had imagined. The Shichat makes it easy and quickly answers any questions I may have. I think the idea is to be as helpful as possible, to make it a good experience, and not something that most people will give up in the middle due to frustration and red tape. However, I will be able to speak more about that in the months to come.