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Joint initiative established to assist Olim with disabilities prior to their Aliyah as well as throughout their integration process

The plan was established in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel, the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Sam Leeman, the 75,000th “Oleh,” or new immigrant to Israel, arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight that landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Aug. 17, 2022. Photo by Shahar Azran.
Sam Leeman, the 75,000th “Oleh,” or new immigrant to Israel, arrived on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight that landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Aug. 17, 2022. Photo by Shahar Azran.

A new joint initiative was established in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel, Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, together with the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Qualita Aliyah organizations, to assist new Olim to receive recognition from the appropriate welfare offices prior to their Aliyah enabling immediate servicing upon their move to Israel. This breakthrough will also enable Olim with disabilities to better understand the services and resources that would be available to them immediately upon their Aliyah and ease their acclimation accordingly.

The new joint initiative will revolutionize the Aliyah process for people with disabilities, enabling them to exercise their right to immigrate to Israel and more easily integrate into Israeli society. Most notably, the initiative will aid immigrants with disabilities in starting the process with the Ministry of Welfare prior to their Aliyah, i.e., in their country of origin. The goal, therefore, is to institute their rights even prior to immigrating to Israel, as well as to allow their integration to be adapted to their individual needs.

Until now, a new Oleh with a disability would need to arrive in Israel and, only then, begin the process of qualifying for recognition of the disability and receiving the assistance they are entitled to from the state, which can take an extended amount of time. As a result, the Aliyah process for families and individuals with disabilities would be severely delayed or prevented altogether due to major uncertainty regarding the rights they deserve from the Ministry of Welfare, and furthermore, the fear that they will not find adequate solutions upon their arrival in Israel, was a deterrent from fulfilling their Aliyah dreams.

“This is a major step in the revolution we are leading for the rights of people with disabilities,” said Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs, Meir Cohen. “The new initiative will make it much easier for Olim with disabilities to settle in Israel, and it will prevent a situation in which the Aliyah of people with disabilities is delayed and/or prevented due to a challenging process. From now on, every immigrant who arrives in Israel and lives with a disability will receive full rights immediately upon arrival. I thank the Chairman of The Jewish Agency, Doron Almog, for his commitment to the issue of integrating people with disabilities, as well as Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Pnina Tamano Shata, for her cooperation.”

“We have the obligation and moral responsibility to make things as easy as possible for new immigrants, in particular for the individuals and families of immigrants with disabilities, and to correct a long-standing reality that has hurt an entire, voiceless population that is already struggling with many other hardships,” said MK Pnina Tamano Shata, Minister of Aliyah and Integration. “I thank the Minister of Welfare Meir Cohen and Chairman of the Jewish Agency Doron Almog for their cooperation in finding solutions that will benefit many families.”

“This new initiative is a breakthrough that will help potential olim with a special- needs family member, in immeasurable ways. Over the last twenty years, I have seen families unable to fulfill their Aliyah dreams due to this tremendous challenge. We are all excited to share the news with all the families who have been waiting for this new law,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “I applaud all of our partners as well as the various governmental entities for joining together to make this change happen.”

Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of The Jewish Agency and founder and chairman of the rehabilitation village “ADI Negev-Nachalat Eran”, which has become a model for integrating people with disabilities, commented, “My son Eran, who was born with a severe mental disability, was my greatest life teacher and taught me more than anything about the place of the weak in society. We must do everything in our power to allow people with disabilities to exercise their right to make Aliyah and facilitate the process of integrating them into Israeli society immediately following their arrival in Israel. Parents of a child with a disability have many difficulties and concerns about immigrating to Israel, and now we can ease their concerns and provide them a sense of certainty and security. This is our Zionist and moral duty.”

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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.

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