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Volunteering with new immigrants
The Jewish Agency, Osem, Ynet call upon Israeli families to join Babait Beyahad program (At Home Together).
The program involves Israeli families helping new immigrants take first steps in Israel
Tens of thousands of olim from all over the world move to Israel every year. The move usually involves leaving behind a house, career, familiar places, family, and friends they have accumulated over the years.
The absorption in Israel is not an easy process. The olim need to acquire a new language, find new employment and housing, and deal with financial troubles, as well as having to deal with everyday issues such as shopping in the supermarket, opening a bank account, paying bills, etc.
During this process, it is not uncommon for the olim to feel lonely and alienated. IDF lone soldiers, for example, who come to Israel on their own, often chose to stay on the army base for Shabbat, as they have no relatives with whom to stay. This typically remains the case for several years.
Tens of thousands of olim are currently undergoing this process. However, most Israelis will never meet them socially and will not have a relaxed conversation with them in the comfort of their living room.
In order to bridge this gap between the new immigrants, Israelis, and veteran olim, the Jewish Agency devised the Babait Beyahad (At Home Together) Program.
The idea behind the program is very simple: to ‘couple’ Israeli and veteran immigrant families with new olim, either families or individuals. The Israeli family accompanies the olim and offers them support as they take their first steps in Israel.
Ukranian and Ethiopian olim
The Israeli side in each pair helps the newcomers overcome the hardships that stem from their aliya. Using their knowledge and network of friends and acquaintances, they help the olim deal with Israeli bureaucracy, find work and solve housing problems.
The contact between the families, through Babait Beyahad, enables the olim to expand their social network too and feel more at home in Israeli society.
The program has regional counselors in every town who locate and recruit families. Several group meetings between olim and Israelis, where the families have a chance to get to know each other, take place before the final ‘pairing’.
Later on, Babait Beyahad offers professional counseling, supervision and follow-up assistance to both families, as well as a variety of cultural and recreational activities, such as trips in Israel and singsong evenings.
The pairing between the families is usually based on individual suitability, for example: common background (city of residence, profession, children, age, etc.), interests, and language.
Israelis can also join the program as task volunteers who provide assistance in a particular area, such as helping olim write their CVs, find work, and learn Hebrew.
Babait Beyahad offers Israelis an opportunity to volunteer and become involved in the absorption process of new olim. The program is also a nationwide social project aimed not only at helping the immigrants’ absorption, but also at bridging social gaps and promoting aliya among relatives of the new olim. The Israeli families also benefit from their exposure to new cultures and expanding their social network.
The Babait Beyahad program’s public council is chaired by Ofra Strauss. Approximately 15,000 Israeli, veteran olim and new immigrant families or individuals have joined the program. About 1,700 other volunteers provide the new immigrants with support in individual tasks.