Nefesh B'Nefesh

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Nefesh B'Nefesh
Hebrew: נפש בנפש
Nefesh B'Nefesh logo.png
Type Nonprofit organization
Tax ID No. 22-3804152
Founded August 2001 (2001-08)
Founder(s) Tony Gelbart, Yehoshua Fass
Headquarters
Coordinates 40°55′45″N 74°04′36″W / 40.9291°N 74.0767°W / 40.9291; -74.0767Coordinates: 40°55′45″N 74°04′36″W / 40.9291°N 74.0767°W / 40.9291; -74.0767
Origins Zionism and Aliyah
Key people Erez Halfon (Vice Chairman)
Area served North America, UK, Israel
Service(s) Charity
Focus(es) Jewish diaspora
Mission To encourage Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel)
Method(s) Employment, logistical and financial assistance
Revenue US$14,766,089
Motto Aliyah: Live the dream
Website www.nbn.org.il

Nefesh B'Nefesh (Hebrew: נפש בנפש‎, lit. Soul by soul), or Jewish Souls United, is a nonprofit organization that promotes, encourages and facilitates Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) from North America and the United Kingdom.[1] The organization aims to remove or minimize the financial, professional, logistical, and social obstacles that potential Olim face. Nefesh B'Nefesh works in close cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Government of Israel and major Jewish organizations across all denominations and assists people of all ages in the Pre and Post-Aliyah process, offering resources such as financial aid, employment guidance and networking, assistance navigating the Israeli system, social guidance and counseling. Since 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh brought over 30,000 Olim to Israel.[2]

History[edit]

Nefesh B'Nefesh was originally conceived by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass after a family member was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel on March 28, 2001.[3] Realizing that there were many people who wanted to immigrate to Israel but were concerned about certain obstacles, Rabbi Fass and Florida businessman and philanthropist Tony Gelbart decided to create an organization which would try to make it easier for American Jews to make Aliyah.

In the summer of 2002, Nefesh B'Nefesh organized its first chartered Aliyah flight. In November 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorized government funding for Nefesh B'Nefesh on a trial basis. In May 2006, in response to numerous requests from British Jews interested in Aliyah, services were expanded to also include the United Kingdom. In December 2006, Nefesh B'Nefesh brought its 10,000th Oleh,[4] and in December 2007 the organization welcomed its 30th chartered flight to Israel.

In January 2008, Nefesh B'Nefesh, in conjunction with Legacy Heritage Fund, announced provision of significant fellowship grants for physicians making Aliyah in order to help counteract a projected shortage of physicians in Israel. In May 2008, with the help of Nefesh B'Nefesh, a Knesset "Lobby for the Encouragement for Aliya from the West" was established.[5] The lobby aims to raise awareness of the unique needs of western Olim and further remove obstacles that they may face during the initial stages of their acclimation.

In August 2008, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Nefesh B'Nefesh created a "one-stop shop" designed to streamline the Aliyah process and make it easier for Olim.[6] Under the new "collaborative venture" Nefesh B'Nefesh are the primary source responsible for marketing and promoting the concept of Aliyah to Jews in North America. Jewish Agency is responsible for the Aliyah eligibility process with the appropriate authorities in Israel. In September 2008, the Israeli government officially recognized Nefesh B'Nefesh in a decision designed to enhance Aliyah from Western countries. A unanimous cabinet decision gave the authority to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption to permanently fund one third of Nefesh B'Nefesh's annual budget. In 2009, oil tycoon Guma Aguiar donated $8million to the organization.[7]

In September 2009, Erez Halfon became Vice Chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh. Prior to joining the organization, he served as Director General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption from 2006 to 2008. In February 2010, the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee agreed to intensify their partnerships with Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Services[edit]

Nefesh B'Nefesh charter flight, 2007

Nefesh B'Nefesh provides assistance with Israeli bureaucratic procedures and helps Olim overcome language and cultural gaps. The Government Advocacy Department works with governmental and institutional bodies, such as the Ministries of Interior and Immigrant Absorption. The department provides information for Olim, such as guides for dealing with government offices and agencies, and information regarding benefits.

Nefesh B'Nefesh provides financial aid to eligible Aliyah candidates in order to help defray some of the relocation costs. Nefesh B'Nefesh maintains regular contact with Olim prior to Aliyah and after arrival in Israel.[1] The organization has an in-house call center and conducts ongoing seminars and workshops, helps families identify suitable communities, and assists students in finding appropriate educational tracks. It also provides a supportive network for singles and retirees.[8] Social Services staff help to address the personal concerns of each Oleh prior to Aliyah and for some time afterwards.

Nefesh B'Nefesh assists Olim in searching for jobs. It provides pre- and post- Aliyah employment counseling sessions and matches Olim with professionals in their field, assists in tailoring resumes to the Israeli market, provides information about job retraining, and offers guidance in starting businesses. In addition, the Employment Department lobbies on behalf of various professions which require official licensing. Over 2,000 businesses have joined the online business directory that assists the English speaking community in Israel. Nefesh B'Nefesh runs several special programs such as Soldier Aliyah Fund and Physician Aliyah Program. Nefesh B'Nefesh provides chartered and group Aliyah flights with El Al Airlines, Israel's official airline.

The Nefesh B'Nefesh website includes an online application for Nefesh B'Nefesh assistance and Jewish Agency for Israel approval.[9] It also includes the Aliyahpedia, a collection of articles about Aliyah, helping readers learn about Israeli communities, schools, employment, financial planning and Aliyah rights. The website offers additional resources such as an online calendar of events and a library of taped seminars.

Go North program[edit]

The Go North program aims to encourage Jews from North America and the UK to immigrate directly to the northern part of Israel, including following regions: Galilee, Golan Heights, Jezreel Valley and Upper Jordan Valley.[10] The city of Haifa and its neighboring suburbs (Krayot) are not part of the program. The program dealt with overcoming the concerns that the long distance from the country's center area and lack of development might arouse absorption issues. By ongoing employment assistance, tailor fitted social programming and a personal guidance system by the local Go North staff the transition chances are higher. Applications for the program are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Due to the joint venture of the Jewish Agency for Israel and Nefesh B'Nefesh, an Oleh can take advantage of a "one-stop shop" offering both Aliyah approval and the Go North application services. Olim who already made Aliyah and wish to relocate to the northern region, can apply to the program as well. The official goal aimed by the program is settling a total of 1,500 Olim in the upper northern part of Israel within a planned period of 5 years.

The financial assistance funds offered to the qualified applicants are pending a three-year period. A residents who leave the region and therefore the project, are required to return up to 50 percent of the awarded funds. In case of leaving Israel and going back abroad, a full fund return will be required. The budget for the initiative stands on the total sum of 10 million US$. A major source of the budget is The Russell Berrie Foundation donation, with additional funding from the Government of Israel and the Jewish National Fund.

Criticism[edit]

In late 2012, the Haaretz newspaper published an investigation that made claims against Nefesh B'Nefesh alleging that the organization has not significantly increased Aliyah since its founding, that it has double-billed the government for Olim who arrived with the assistance of other organizations, and that the Nefesh's employee salaries were bloated.[11] Nefesh B'Nefesh denied Haaretz's accusations and maintained that government audited figures showed a 140% increase of Aliyah in the ten years of the organization's operation, and that another five-year comprehensive government audit found no irregularities or duplication in Nefesh B'Nefesh's invoicing protocol. Nefesh B'Nefesh also stated that its salaries were well within comparative norms and counter claimed that the Haaretz article was politically motivated.[12]
In retaliation, Nefesh B'Nefesh now adopt a policy of not including Haaretz in any list of media outlets provided to Olim.

Hanukkah flash mob[edit]

In 2009 Nefesh B'Nefesh produced a Hanukkah flash mob viral video, registering over one million views on YouTube.[13][14] The mob assembled on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street and was choreographed by new immigrant Marvin Casey. The participants danced to the song "Hanukkah Hey Ya" by American comedian Eric Schwartz, spoof of an Outkast song "Hey Ya!"[15]

Partners[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NBN Mission Statement". Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Statistics". Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Karp, Miriam. "Moving Up". Jewish Holiday Online. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Nefesh B'Nefesh Welcomes its 10,000th Oleh!". Shabbat Shalom. Orthodox Union. January 17, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Lobby for the Encouragement for Aliya from the West". Knesset. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ Rettig, Haviv (September 1, 2008). "US aliya ceded to Nefesh B'Nefesh". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Guma Aguiar Left Tefillin on Ghost Yacht". The Forward. September 4, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Getting Started: Families Retirees Singles Teens & Students". Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Nefesh B'Nefesh". Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Go North". Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Levinson, Chaim; Blau, Uri; Twersky, Mordechai I. (October 20, 2012). "Nefesh B'Nefesh an ineffective monopoly with overpaid executives, say critics". Haaretz. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Nefesh B'Nefesh's response to the recent Haaretz articles on October 20, 2012". Press Releases. Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  13. ^ Abitbol, David (November 24, 2009). "Jerusalem Flashmob". Jewlicious Festivals. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ Nefesh B'Nefesh Hanukkah Flash Mob (Official NBN Release). Jerusalem: Nefesh B'Nefesh. 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  15. ^ Torok, Ryan (December 2, 2009). "Smooth-E's Jewtronic Music-Making". The Jewish Journal. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Our Partners". Nefesh B'Nefesh. Retrieved March 17, 2014. 

External links[edit]