Tuesday, March 2, 2010
A silver lining in the dark cloud of the American economy
The lousy economy is causing more U.S. Jews to move to Israel. In 2009, almost 4,000 Jews moved to Israel from the United States - the largest number to do so in a single year since 1983. With unemployment rates hovering at around 10%, one ripple effect of America's recession is increased immigration to Israel. Then there are the actual cash incentives Israel offers to ease the way for those immigrating under the country's Law of Return, which offers automatic citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent. The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption provides about $4,000 per adult and about $2,000 per child to these immigrants, paid out over seven months. Immigrants are also entitled to free education up to the master's degree level and are customarily granted a 70% - 90% reduction on their property taxes. Plus, they receive discounts and tax waivers on Israeli-made appliances. If that is not enough, additional financial help is available from Nefesh B'Nefesh, a relatively new nongovernmental organization that facilitates immigration for American Jews. About 70% of the immigrants apply for this, according to Danny Oberman, the organization's executive vice president of Israeli operations.