A new survey of olim who immigrated to Israel in the past two years indicates that 67 percent report suffering from economic challenges. While 40 percent of those surveyed said that economic opportunity in Israel was the main reason for their making aliyah, the study shows that two years after arriving in the country, their economic status has not significantly changed for the better.
The survey was commissioned by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), which brings thousands of olim to Israel every year, and conducted by Geocartography Knowledge Group among French- and Russian-speaking olim, who make up the majority of new immigrants.
Regarding their economic status, 68 percent of French-speaking olim surveyed reported their current situation as “average”; 11 percent reported their situation as “bad” or “very bad”; and 21 percent reported their situations as “good” or “very good.” Thirty-eight percent of Russian-speaking olim surveyed described their status as “pretty good” or “very good,” and the remaining 62 percent as “average” or “bad.”
Regarding employment satisfaction, 55 percent of both the French and Russian speakers surveyed said they were not happy with the employment they had found in Israel. These respondents said the jobs they had found either did not fit their skills or did so in a very limited way. Seventeen percent of French speakers surveyed said they found reasonably satisfying employment and another 17 percent were “happy” or “very happy” with their employment. Among Russian speakers surveyed, 26 percent said they found reasonably satisfying employment and 12 percent said they were “happy” or “very happy” with their current employment.
Despite the challenges they face, 90 percent of olim (96 percent of French speakers and 88 percent of Russian speakers) said that, in retrospect, they would not have changed their decision to make aliyah. Further, despite their challenges, 82 percent of olim reported that their absorption experience in Israel was either “very good” or “pretty good.”
Regarding their motivations for making aliyah, 84 percent of French-speaking olim surveyed cited Zionist or religious reasons. Secondary motivations reported were anti-Semitism in France and wanting to join relatives in Israel. Forty-seven percent of Russian speakers surveyed reported making aliyah for economic reasons. Their secondary reasons were Zionism and wanting to join relatives in Israel.
After only two full years of direct involvement in aliyah, The Fellowship has become a dominant force for Jewish immigration to Israel. This year, The Fellowship brought more than 4,100 immigrants to Israel from 24 countries where Jews are increasingly threatened by anti-Semitism, assimilation, economic hardship and conflict – about 20 percent of the nearly 24,000 Jews from around the world who made Israel their home this year (this does not include an additional 7,500 people who independently came to Israel in the past and decided to acquire citizenship in 2016).
The Fellowship also offers specialized services tailored to immigrants’ countries of origin, providing financial aid to Ukrainian olim escaping civil conflict, housing assistance to French Jews who’ve identified that need, and more.
“In a globalized world where families can choose between making aliyah to Israel or immigrating to other countries, Israel has to stand out among the alternatives to ensure that new olim will achieve successful lives for themselves and their families,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship’s founder and president.
“Israel must do everything in its power to ensure that olim attain proper employment and find a tolerant, supportive and accessible environment,” Eckstein added. “For this reason, The Fellowship is working hard to contribute to this important goal and we are happy to see Israel’s absorption minister, Sofa Landver, doing the same. We expect Israel’s other ministers will join us in supporting olim in all aspects of life.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)