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Israel & Christians Today
Biblical understanding about Israel
By Ruben Ridderhof, C4I Netherlands
The concentration of palm trees and other vegetation betrays from a considerable distance the presence of human habitation. Here, in the middle of the Negev Desert is kibbutz Mash’abe Sade, one of the kibbutzim where new immigrants into Israel (“olim”) today still can have a “soft landing”. Here we meet Elena Kovarsky, who arrived here in 1991 with her family. She is now program director of “First Home in the Homeland”.
Elena explains how the program works. “When Jews in the former Soviet Union consider immigration into Israel, they always contact the Jewish Agency, with whom we work closely together. They look at the possibilities they have in Israel. If possible they make their own arrangements. But there are also integration programs in which immigrants have language lessons and can receive vocational training. The kibbutz program is really tailored to the specific immigrants. The immigrant and the kibbutz must suit each other. In one kibbutz agriculture plays a big role, another kibbutz has a factory. The participating kibbutzim have a say in who they take care of. That is how we try to create as many win-win situations as possible.
“Once in Israel, the olim will receive a simple house in the kibbutz where they are allowed to live with a discount for a year. Families with children also get a discount on education and day care. The program starts with an obligatory five month period of Ulpan: Hebrew lessons. Speaking the language is the principal condition for a successful integration into Israel and is therefore the basis of the program. In the following six months there is a possibility to attend advanced language lessons and the olim can also attend vocational training or start looking for a job. After one year the program is finished and the olim can decide whether they want to stay in the kibbutz or spread their wings into the Israeli society elsewhere. My husband and I had the idea to live somewhere in Tel Aviv, but when we arrived here we fell in love with the kibbutz and now we just do not want to leave ever again.”
The kibbutz, a quiet and small-scale rural community is a fantastic place for olim to get to know the country. From here the state of Israel came into being. Here the pioneering spirit still lives. | Photo: Flash90
Although life in the kibbutz is no longer the same as forty years ago, the integration program offers a fantastic start in the Promised Land. From these small communities Israel originated and its pioneering spirit can be felt throughout the entire Israeli society. Therefore the kibbutz is pre-eminently a suitable place to land in as olim, because the pioneering spirit of the Jewish state is still alive. Furthermore the program in the Negev is the fulfilment of David Ben-Gurion’s dream to develop the Negev desert.
In the kibbutz we also meet Orly (Sveta) Wolstein. This young Jewish woman came to Israel from the Ukraine a few years ago and attended the First Home in the Homeland program in Mash’abe Sade. Now she speaks Hebrew fluently and works as the project manager of 'First Home in the Homeland'. “I am very glad that I came to Israel and participated in this program. It is a wonderful place to root in the land away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.”
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|Elena Kovarsky came to kibbutz Mash’abe Sade and is now program director of First Home in the Homeland. | Photo: C4I|
|Orly Wolstein came from the Ukraine to Israel a few years ago and thanks to First Home in the Homeland she integrated well into Israeli society. She is now 'First Home in the Homeland' Projectmanager | Photo: C4I|