Sammy Hudes @ JPost: Netanya aliya and absorption information fair caters to French Jews (18/08/2013)
|Oded Feuer (L) with Dir-Gen of Immigrant Absoprtion Ministry Oded Forer and Yaakov Hagoel|
The fair, run by the World Zionist Organization in collaboration with the Netanya Municipality, aimed to encourage the immigration of French Jews to Israel, where many already spend their summers in Netanya as tourists.
"The French community is unique from a few aspects", said Oded Feuer, WZO’s director of aliya promotions. “First of all what is happening – let’s say outside noises – in France. The feeling in the community is that there’s no future", he said, noting that in addition to problems of anti- Semitism that many Jews face in France, other economic and legal circumstances often drive Jews to leave for Israel. "The conditions in France in a way tell the people 'find your future somewhere [else]'", Feuer said.
The WZO has seen a rise in the number of French citizens making aliya so far in 2013, Feuer said, as 2,500 are expected to immigrate to Israel by the end of the year. The organization says this is a 40 percent increase from 2012, when about 1,800-1,900 French citizens made aliya.
"The community of France is very traditional, with strong Jewish and Zionist identities", Feuer said. "They are never afraid to say that they love and support Israel. With this strong identity, we want them to connect the identity and beliefs that they have. Israel is a great place, not just for two months in the summer and for coming for the [holidays] or to have your wedding or bar mitzva, but to live all year long."
Over the course of the day, thousands packed the fair, which was attended by Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg and also included musical performances by French artists, in addition to actors dressed up as famous Israeli leaders to give a "Zionist atmosphere". The fair included several booths providing potential olim with information on life in Israel.
Representatives were also present from the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Municipality Netanya, where many French Jews already live.
The fair was also designed to inform recent French olim of the resources already available to them, with advisers from legal, financial, employment, education, retirement and real-estate agencies on hand to explain the various options for day-to-day life in Israel.
Yaakov Hagoel, Head of the Department for Activities in Israel & Countering Anti-Semitism said, "It's impressive and inspiring to witness the natural relationship between the French Jewry and the state of Israel. This is the second annual French Aliyah fair of the Department for Activities in Israel & Countering Antisemitism of the WZO, working together the Municipality of Netanya under mayor Feirberg. Beyond being a clear Zionist community, French Jews are dealing with an unstable economic crisis plaguing Europe. Anti-Semitic incidents in the last decade have increased drastically. We are sending a clear message that Israel is your home. However, the catalyst of French Jewry making aliya is driven not by economic reasons or anti-Semitism but rather a strong sense of Zionism."
He added: "I am confident that Zionism is strong in France and I hope to greet new Olim here in Israel soon as one nation and one fate".
Photo by: Omri Bar-el