An Informal Chat with Avi Zimmerman – Coordinator of The Community Aliyah Program in Ariel

Two of our Ariel Aliyah volunteers, Jerry and Sylvia Dortz, decided to interview Avi – here are the results:

Avi and Dana Zimmerman have been married for 5 years and have two children. Avi is from West Orange, New Jersey and after graduating high school made aliyah in 1995. Dana came to Israel at the age of 2 from South Africa. After their marriage they lived in Alon Shvot for two years but they knew it was only temporary since they wanted to live in a place where they could contribute to the community. They chose the city of Ariel because it afforded them the opportunity to pursue their dream of contributing to the community in which they lived.

About 1 ½ years ago Ron Nachman, mayor of Ariel, invited English speakers in Ariel to a meeting in his home to discuss the prospect of bringing North American Jews to Ariel. The mayor obtained funding and support from the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption to include Ariel in their Community Aliyah Program. It was suggested to Mayor Nachman that a project coordinator be hired who would be responsible to see that the program was run properly. Avi Zimmerman was approached and he decided to take a break from his profession as an occupational therapist to take on the responsibility of heading this program as its coordinator. This particular program was created by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption to function in a number of cities in Israel.

Avi’s duties include marketing the Ariel Aliyah program and following through with an effective absorption program for the olim. Much of the marketing is done by internet and telecommunications, both here in Israel and by Avi’s trips abroad, where Ariel is presented to targeted audiences.

The goal of the Ariel Community Aliyah Program is to have an effective plan for North American Jews who choose to come home to Israel and who choose to settle in Ariel. We want to encourage aliyah by choice and to enhance Jewish life for those olim.

The Ariel Community Aliyah Program has approximately 20 volunteers with a core group of 10 people. The committee is expanding because as new olim arrive, they want to become active and give back to the community. When they arrive they are helped technically with as much as can be done in the way of housing, employment, education for adults and children and community programs so that their aliyah experience is a comfortable and enjoyable event. There are programs within Ariel for adults and children to help familiarize these families with the city and its people. Avi Zimmerman as Coordinator of Ariel Aliyah develops a program according to the needs of each oleh – oleh of different ages, backgrounds and needs. The program also provides pen pals, adoptive families, hospitality with local families. This motivates the community to take an active part in the process. All in all, as one can readily see, the Ariel Aliyah Community Program is a wonderful opportunity for our new olim and the citizens of Ariel to come together

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