With its rural landscape, rolling mountains and natural water sources, many people think of Israel’s north as a prime vacation spot. Yet the region is becoming increasingly popular as a place for Olim to call home. In 2008 Nefesh B’Nefesh launched an unprecedented pioneering initiative aimed at encouraging North American and British Olim to settle in the North of Israel and benefit from all the wonderful opportunities the region has to offer.
The ‘Go North’ program encourages Olim to establish their homes up North by providing them with significant financial grants and other forms of assistance. These olim are drawn to the region, yet may be reluctant to move far from country’s center. The help that they receive enables them to settle successfully. The initiative, which is a joint partnership between the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Jewish National Fund, the Ministry of the Development of the Negev and the Galilee and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, is designed to ease the transition into Northern communities by creating the conditions for a seamless professional and social integration.
Participants benefit from regional employment assistance, transportation subsidies, Hebrew language support, affordable housing, social programming, and assistance from Nefesh B’Nefesh staff dedicated to the region.
The overall aim of the Go North program is to bring 1,500 Olim to settle in Northern Israel over a five year period. In 2010, less than 2 years after launching the program, almost 500 Olim had already successfully done so. Participants are offered a diverse range of community choices and have settled into small kibbutzim as well as larger communities in Karmiel, Maalot, Misgav, Tzfat, Migdal Haemek, Afula, Beit Shearim, Hanaton, Hazorim, Hispin, Katzrin, Nahariyah, Poriya Illit, and Yavniel.
Many new residents are young families who are drawn to Northern Israel’s scenic environs, high quality of life, good school systems and vibrant community life. Whatever the reason, an increasing number of Anglo Olim are moving up North and are finding warm, embracing communities who welcome them with open arms and provide them with the community atmosphere and lifestyle they are seeking.
Here is a look at some of the communities Israel’s North has to offer.
According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, a relatively large number of Olim have moved to the small city of Ma’alot. Ma’alot is located 600 meters above sea level in the mountains of the Western Galilee, and has a population of 23,000. With all the amenities of a larger city, such as shopping malls, restaurants, and state-of-art fitness centers, Ma’alot is also home to a man-made lake surrounded by beautiful park grounds and an indoor ice- skating rink.
Another popular location for Anglo Olim is Karmiel, which has welcomed sixteen families and singles who made Aliyah from North America in the past eighteen months alone. Located in the Beit Hakerem Valley on the northernmost edge of the Lower Galilee, Karmiel has a population of about 50,000, 40% of which are immigrants from a variety of countries. The city is noted for its cleanliness and is also extremely child and family friendly, having many landscaped areas, sports facilities and parks throughout the city. Karmiel is annually awarded the Minister of Interior Prize for Financial Management, and was awarded 5 stars in a competition designed to create a more beautiful Israel.
Nahariya is a lovely city of 52,000 people, located 30 kilometers north of Haifa, on a beautiful stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Many western singles and families have joined the existing small and vibrant English speaking community there. As befitting a seaside town, there is a beautiful boardwalk along the beach, and the city also boasts a lovely boulevard lined with European style cafes, filled with Nahariya residents doing what they love to do – relax in the sun and chat with friends. The sunny weather in Nahariya provides pleasant outdoor days for most of the year. The city is defined by its beaches, cafes, safe and small town atmosphere, clean air, friendly people and diverse population. Nahariya boasts a convenient and comfortable train line, carrying passengers to Haifa in less than 30 minutes. Public transportation also includes excellent inter-city and local bus lines.
If you are interested in applying to Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Go North program, please contact the Go North staff who will assist you in your Aliyah research and planning. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-866-4-ALIYAH or visit www.gonorth.org.il.
Shira and Boaz Guras decided to move to the North with their three children, Ayalah (7), Aitan (4) and Avi Chai (1), because many of Boaz’s family live close to Haifa. “We knew we didn’t want to live in the city and we decided on Hanaton as the place we would settle. The kids LOVE LOVE LOVE kibbutz life. They love the freedom of being able to come and go as they please, a freedom they never had in the States. When they come home from school and eat lunch, within minutes they are out again.
They are on their bikes, walking to friends or to the playground. The kibbutz feel is so small that it truly creates a sense of family, which is also so needed when you make Aliyah. There is a feeling of home here. People are constantly inviting others over for meals, cooking for others when sick, watching others’ children when they can’t get back to the kibbutz on time and sharing Shabbat meals and Havdalah together.” Boaz works as a builder in Yodfat, a 10 minute drive from the kibbutz and Shira is currently applying for a PhD at Haifa University. In the meantime, she does English editing and proofreading and teaches Yoga and meditation classes on the kibbutz. “Moving to the Galilee was one of the best decisions our family ever made. The pace of life, the peacefulness of the surroundings and the beauty of the Galilee made moving to the North a perfect decision for our family.”
“This article is part of a promotional Aliyah section.”