Advisor meets with UMD students considering move to Israel

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By Erin Garry
For Mitzpeh
@egarry12

Many Jewish Americans dream of moving to Israel for a variety of reasons, whether it be for religious observance, for Jewish heritage, or for employment opportunities, but many find the thought of moving across the world daunting.

Students had the opportunity to meet with an Aliyah advisor from Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that promotes and assists in planning Aliyah from the U.S., to discuss relocating to Israel on November 27 at Hillel.

Jessica Friedman-Lamdan, a pre-Aliyah employment advisor for the organization, held individualized appointments from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. to answer students’ questions. Lamdan specifically works with young professionals and college graduates and has held the position for over a year.

The one-on-one meetings were used to discuss a student’s career goals or what life in Israel may be for them. Lamdan feels it is necessary to host these meetings because students are not always aware of their options in Israel as they go through their college years.

“To make Aliyah” is to move to Israel and become an Israeli citizen, as explained by the organization’s website. The program assists people in job placement, government advocacy, financial assistance and relocation planning.

Students celebrate completing Aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Photo courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

This university, in particular, Lamdan said, has many people interested in the program and start to see the advisor as early as freshman year. Nefesh B’Nefesh used to hold group advising sessions but switched to one on one to better address individual questions and concerns.

As an employment counselor, Lamdan puts students in touch with people in Israel who work in the student’s desired career field. She also discusses what choices a student can make in school now that would better prepare him or her for a career in Israel.

“The spirit on campus is always amazing,” said Lamdan. “It is something really, really unique about Maryland that I find students engaged in the planning.”

The person that coordinated last year’s advising meetings reached out to Aaron Yitzhaky, a senior kinesiology major, to encourage people to sign up and spread the word about Nefesh B’Nefesh around campus.

“There’s a good handful of kids that…every May, head off to Israel after graduation,” said Yitzhaky. “Even if its two or five or even 10 years later, and they want to make Aliyah, this information is very valuable for them.”

Young Professionals Community Manager for Nefesh B’Nefesh, Ezra Kapetansky, noted that many Jewish students at this university choose to make Aliyah.

“UMD has one of the strongest contingency of students making Aliyah to Israel,” said Kapetansky. “We do our best to provide one-on-one support to them by sending our Aliyah advisors to the campus once a year.”

Appointment slots were filled, and Lamdan will be reaching out to those on the waitlist to schedule a Skype appointment. Nefesh B’Nefesh holds Aliyah advising appointments on campus once a year.

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