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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Economic crisis spurs aliya

The Wall Street Journal reports that the economic crisis in the US has prompted a lot of people to make aliya (immigrate to Israel).
After years of a brain drain from the region, and despite the lack of a peace settlement, by the end of this month about 4,000 North American Jews will have immigrated to Israel this year, an increase of 33% over 2008 and the most in one year since 1973, according to Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that oversees and assists with immigration to Israel from North America.

Immigrants to Israel often have a longstanding desire to move, but the economic crisis has pushed them to make the jump this year, said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for Nefesh B'Nefesh. "The economy has a lot to do with it," Mr. Oberman said.


Zumi Brody immigrated to Israel with his wife and four young children in August. Mr. Brody, a vice president of a bank, said he had to sell his home in St. Louis for less than what he paid for it to make the move, but paying at least $10,000 per child to attend Jewish day school would have been burdensome. In Israel, his children can attend a state-funded school and still learn Hebrew and Jewish studies.

The increase in immigration from America also shows a change in the image and economy of Israel. The country is in the process of entering the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been upgraded from a developing to a developed economy, said Glenn Yago, an economist at the Milken Institute in Jerusalem.

This wave of American immigration suggests that Israel is shifting "from its primary, historical role as a refuge of last resort to a human- and financial-capital destination of first resort," Mr. Yago said.
I wonder if there are still ideologues (as Mrs. Carl and I were) making aliya these days.

It's long been the case that people made aliya from North America (and Europe, albeit mostly from England in those days) as something other than a refuge of last resort. I have no doubt that the economy is pushing people to come, and it is true that the recession here (for most of us anyway) has not been as deep here as it has been in the US. But it has always been true that the two major expenses of raising Jewish children (Jewish education and health care) are much less expensive here in the case of education and much more attainable here in both cases. So why are people suddenly making aliya now to save on their kids' tuition?

I should add that somehow the Journal didn't hear that Nefesh b'Nefesh makes nice loans to help people make aliya. They weren't around in my day.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I made aliya with NBN around 3 years ago with purely ideological motives. Most of my friends from Anglo countries who did so also came for the same reasons. I think this is generally true for most people who make aliya from NBN. I feel the recession though can be the tipping point for those people who want to make aliyah but now it seems more feasible to them as the situation economically isn't much better.

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a serious change needed here in the dismantlement of the bureaucracy and the over-burdening taxes, which inhibit investment and growth here in Israel, from the individual proprietor to any size corporation.

Many more would survive and flourish if the system wasn't so brutal here.

If you think we're creative here now, you can't begin to imagine what would take off here if attractive tax rates and less government interference would be set into effect.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel is a developed First World Country now and its relationship to Jews must change from one of a refuge of last resort to a country that seeks human and spiritual capital. Shy Guy is right - get rid of government bureaucracy, oppressive regulations, high taxation, and the aliyah question will take care of itself. In other words, make Israel a country Jews want to come to live rather rather than a country Jews have to go only because they have no other alternative open to them.

Quality of life matters and with everything in Israel being more expensive than in the US, Israel's approach to aliyah needs to change. The American economic crisis will not last forever. This is the time to do it.

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel recently passed a tax reform that makes it quite worthwhile for the wealthy to make aliya.



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