Absorption Programs in Haifa, Dimona

The Jewish Agency absorption department has launched two separate ventures, one in Dimona and the other in Haifa, intended to pioneer a system of “absorption facilities for individual professions.” In Dimona, as of Tuesday, an absorption center opened catering solely to engineers, mostly from the Soviet Union. In Haifa, a pilot year-long “social workers for Israel” program has been under way since Aug. attended by 13 young American social workers, all with Masters degrees in social work and all contemplating aliya.

The Dimona center will have an initial intake of some 150 engineers and their families. While their wives and children study Hebrew at the center’s ulpan, the engineers will go through a four stage absorption and adaptation course. In the first stage they will study basic Hebrew. Then, divided into groups of metal engineers, electrical and electron engineers, civil and construction engineers, and chemical engineers, they will be instructed by experts on the Western variations pertaining to their areas of expertise which were not current in the Soviet Union and on the Hebrew nomenclature and terminology in use.

This will be followed by more advanced courses in specialized Hebrew and, where necessary, a fourth stage of acclimatization to Israeli conditions. Throughout this period, all the job prospects in the Beersheba and Negev regions will be presented to the students at the center, without them being required to search all over for suitable employment. The Haifa group of 13 in the social workers’ pilot scheme were carefully chosen from more than 40 applicants.

The course is also designed to help the social worker-immigrants adapt to local conditions and ease their way into suitable employment. “The war compounded Israel’s social problems,” says department head Uzi Narkiss, “and we need manpower in all the social service disciplines, and in all areas of the country.” Backing the program in the U.S. is the “Social Workers for Israel Committee,” chaired by Sydney Gale, executive director of the Associated Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston. His committee comprises 34 prominent American social work professionals.

The first three months of the course are largely devoted to an intensive Hebrew course, and the students are then assigned to work/study roles in agencies in the Haifa region under supervision of experienced Israeli social workers. Hebrew instruction continues throughout the year, and job counselling follows after the initial months to help the students select a regular work position. Gale’s committee is already screening applicants for next year. “We feel that the program will provide a steady stream of people into the country for years to come,” he says.

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