As rocket attacks escalate across Israel’s border with Hamas ruled Gaza, new immigrants to Israel face difficult challenges to their absorption into the general Israeli society. New immigrants from North America and other English speaking countries often find themselves having added stress that their native Israeli neighbors do not share, such as not having full command, or very limited command of Hebrew, leaving them feeling lost and not knowing what they need to do when under fire. Unfortunately native Israelis have experience with border violence and terrorism, whereas a new immigrant from an English speaking country can feel additional shock and anxiety without the past to guide them as to what they can expect.
There is an organization which was created specifically to meet the needs of new immigrants to Israel from English speaking countries. That organization, Nefesh B’Nefesh, is taking unprecedented measures to reach out to these new immigrants to help ease some of the stress, anxiety and fear they may be experiencing as the rockets fly over their heads, and sometimes into their homes, schools and work places.
According to public relations coordinator for Nefesh B’Nefesh Tani Kramer the emergency outreach program which NBN is establishing now will be the biggest since the Second Lebanon War.
“Instead of waiting for them to call us, we have divided our southern olim [immigrants] among all staff members, whether it’s their primary duty or not. Each has received a list of at least 12-15 olim and we’re all calling them and becoming point people for them,” Kramer said.
NBN is planning on contacting each and every immigrant living in the south, said Kramer, with the intention of “making sure they’re OK and offering our services and providing them with information.”
Among the new English-speaking immigrants to Israel are also 700 to 900 active-duty soldiers who have come to Israel with the help of NBN. The staff plans on contacting these soldiers as well, making sure they have everything they need and speaking with them to let them know that they care and are not alone.
Nefesh B’Nefesh created an emergency hotline for English-speakers, and they are giving out information about other hotlines to call organized by Natal, Israel’s Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, the Israel Center for the Treatment of PsychoTrauma and Israel’s Home Front Command, all of which have information and help available in English.