“How Israel changes me”

When Kevin Nafte first came to Israel, he was deeply impressed by the country. Growing up in South Africa and Australia in a Jewish Family and with a strong religious believe, he decided to move to the country he always carried in his heart. Like many other people he considered Israel his home, eventhough he did not live there. That was nearly 5 years ago. Meanwhile, Kevin has settled down in Tel Aviv. A city that inspires him in a way that no other city did before. A city which also did something to his believe: “The way I express my Judaism has changed. In a way it became less. I think it is because in Australia and South Africa Jewish holidays and rituals were only shared by a small group. Here the laws of Judaism are stilled into everyday life“, he says.

For young immigrants living the Jewish believe does not mean to be different anymore. Especially in Tel Aviv being religious suddenly means to go with the flow. That can strengthen the religious togetherness. Or weaken it. Or just give it another direction.

“Living in Tel Aviv, my Judaism is more expressed through my Zionism. And for me my Zionism is to come to Israel and help people who are like myself to come here, too.” The lively, diverse, beautiful and sometimes rough city by the sea made a huge impact on Kevin’s life. He loves to be part of a community that is constantly on the move, never stands still. “The city a testing-pool for young, creative people. A kind of laboratory where everybody tries out his way of life and ideas and at the same time works together for a common goal. For a better country or even a better world”.

Experimenting in this huge think tank by the sea, Kevin found his very own way of expressing his believe in Israel: Through peace projects to enhance the understanding between Palestinians and Israelis. He got involved with a project of the Peres Peace Center, in which a football team comprising Israeli and Palestinian athlets compete against other teams from the whole world.“Being a part of this project was just amazing. For me it was my little piece to peace in the lower east.”

Kevin’s wish for the future is to become active in more projects like that. He wants to embrace the new perspectives which living in Israel gives to him. He is ready to live the change. And he is ready to give a lot in return.

Hebrew school – first place for immigrants

Sharing a second birthday

23. September 2011

By Doerte Apel*

In Israel everybody has a second date of birth. It is the day when they finally came to their new home, when they got the stamp in their passport that makes them an Israeli citizen. In Israel “When did you come here?” is a question as frequently asked as “How old are you?”. In the statistics the Immigrants share a lot: They become younger every year and they are highly educated. But the reasons why they come to Israel are as different as the countries they originally come from. “Israel holds something very dear to Jews from all over the world”, Kevin (28) from Australia says. “I never felt at home in London”, says Jane (24) from Great Britain. “My Master is much cheaper here”, says Lauren (23) from America and Daniel from Great Britain wants to start his own business in Tel Aviv.

Israel holds something very dear to Jews from all over the world

(Kevin 28, from Australia)

In 2010 more than 16 500 immigrants arrived in Israel – the highest rate of immigration for three years. The average age is 29,3 years and the majority of immigrants came from Europe. Most probably most of them meet at the Ulpan, the traditional Hebrew School, which is not only a place to study, but also an important spot to get to know people, find new friends and exchange their experiences.

It can be a long process, but sooner or later most of them completely arrive. Whether it is the “klickklock” of the Matkot-Balls at the shores of Tel Aviv, the first time they finish an article in Hebrew in the daily newspaper or the moment when the waiter of the Hummus-Restaurant knows the first name – feeling at home starts with little moments like that.

But no matter if they come for religious, political, economic or even romantic reasons -together they form a whole new generation of Israelis. A generation which is not only challenged by the problems theirnew home has in store for them, but which is also shaping the country of their dreams.

*Doerte Apel works as editor and reporter at German women’s weekly “Bild der Frau” in Hamburg.


Young immigrants

The second birthday of Kevin Nafta

Young immigrants

The Israeli Government offers immigrants huge financial help

Bila Naim is the director of the Ulpan Gordon School

Little Hebrew School

Words you should know being new in Israel

  • Making Aliya – to immigrate to Israel
    Olim - new immigrants
    Sal Klita - Absorption Basket
    Ulpan - Hebrew School
    Toda! – Thank you
    Bevakasha - Please
    Slicha - Excuse me, sorry
    eich megi'im le... - How do you get to...
    Lo Medaber Ivrit - I don't speak Hebrew
    Mi aharon bator? - Who's last in line?
    Ani Hayiti kodem - I was here first
    Tafsik Lidhof bevakasha - Please stop pushing
    Eich kor'im lach? - What's your name? (for a woman)

Tsipi Kita (54) helps next generation immigrants

One of the biggest language schools

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