Jerusalem academic institutions host student ‘olim’ at higher-ed fair

Young immigrants to Israel attended an academic fair at Nefesh B’Nefesh’s campus in Jerusalem, where they explored educational opportunities in the city.

Attendees visiting different tables at the fair. Credit: Courtesy Nefesh B’Nefesh
Attendees visiting different tables at the fair. Credit: Courtesy Nefesh B’Nefesh

Nefesh B’Nefesh hosted some 500 olim (new immigrants to Israel) at a higher-education fair in Jerusalem last week, giving these aspiring students an opportunity to explore the myriad of academic options available in the city. This event marked the first time all Jerusalem-based academic institutions gathered under one roof to assist the city’s olim.

Thirteen schools were present at the event which Nefesh B’Nefesh coordinated in partnership with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and its student authority division, the Department for Aliyah and Integration at the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Prominent figures who attended the event included Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer; Minister of Education Yoav Kisch; Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Rabbi Shmuel Marciano; and co-founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.

“Bringing new olim to Israel, especially during war, is a crucial mission for us and I thank the minister of education for participating in this important event which included all of the educational institutions of Jerusalem,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer. “Together with our partners from Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel, we are working tirelessly to bring young people to Israel and to Jerusalem in particular and believe we can achieve this important goal. I congratulate each participant for coming today and showing a strong commitment to acclimate and contribute to Israeli society.”

Among the academic institutions present at the event were: the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Hadassah Academic College, the Jerusalem College of Technology, Shalem College, the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Azrieli College of Engineering and more. Also on-hand were various organizations that aim to assist olim such as the FIDF-Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program, Qualita, BaBayit, Olei and others.

“The Jerusalem Municipality invests tremendous efforts in assisting in the acclimation of young immigrants in the city and is proud to work in cooperation with the relevant organizations which support and provide services for seamless transitions for the olim,” said the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion. “This investment is in a variety of areas that enable olim to integrate into all facets of Jerusalem life. The higher-education fair was an exciting first joint effort where all Jerusalem-based academic institutions were accessible under one roof, providing information and individualized consultations in multiple languages for higher education. We will continue working towards providing high-quality support for all immigrants embarking on their aliyah journey to our capital, Jerusalem.”

“We were privileged to host the higher-education fair in our Jerusalem campus and offer hundreds of enthusiastic and inquisitive students an opportunity to explore various educational opportunities and make well-informed decisions about their exciting futures here,” shared co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “It was inspiring to see so many new olim from around the world who are contemplating learning in Jerusalem while integrating into Israel’s academic world. There was palpable energy in the air, throughout the fair, as the attendees engaged in meaningful conversations with representatives from different institutions. It was truly heartwarming to witness.”

In addition to speaking to representatives of each of these organizations, the fair also offered preparatory and informational lectures to attendees in English, Russian, French and Spanish in order for the olim to be aware of their rights and benefits as new students in Israel.

According to the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration’s Student Authority, they have assisted some 1,500 students enroll in academic institutions in Jerusalem between 2016 and 2018. In 2023 alone, they helped some 1,300 olim (69% men and 31% women). Of those students, 30% were from France; 18% from the United States; 17% were from Russia and Ukraine; 4% were from Ethiopia; and 4% were from Argentina.

The most popular destinations for students were Hebrew University, the Jerusalem College of Technology, Hadassah and Bezalel, with 75% of students choosing to enroll at these institutions for their bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, 14% are aspiring medical professionals, 13% study engineering and architecture and 11% chose to go into STEM-related fields.

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Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA, strives to facilitate and celebrate aliyah, and advocate for olim. By minimizing financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles, new arrivals are able to actualize their dreams and continue building a stronger Israel. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 75,000 new immigrants have ensured that 90% have remained in Israel.

See more at: https://www.nbn.org.il/.

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