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Canadian Group Finds That Determined Olim Will Stay in Israel Despite Hardships

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The Zionist Organization of Canada has released an evaluation by Canadian olim in Israel of the work done by a three-man committee the ZOC sent to Jerusalem last April to conduct hearings on the problems of Canadians in Israel and the reasons why some of them return to Canada. The panel created a controversy when the Jewish Agency criticized it as unrepresentative of Canada’s Jewish community and refused an invitation to participate in the hearings or to send observers.

But the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel said in its publication “Jerusalem Voice” that it “salutes the initiative of ZOC and wishes them success in their sincere desire to increase aliya, improve klita (absorption) and make a vital contribution to the strengthening of Israel.” The AACI publication, copies of which were released by the ZOC, found that the testimony by some 40 people selected from hundreds invited to submit written briefs, was “given in a serious courtroom atmosphere” and “was a balanced picture of the current situation.”

According to the AACI “some tentative conclusions that may possibly be drawn” from the proceedings were that “the most determined (olim) will remain in Israel regardless of any difficulties placed in their way” and that the “wealthy and the lower fringes (but not actually poor) have an easier time than vast middle class.”

The AACI said that “detailed, specific information prior to aliya and especially during the first year, is vital to smooth transition” and that “while many of the existent facilities and structures are adequate (or better) on paper, the manner in which services are delivered to slim almost destroys their effectiveness.” It also said that the major problem areas for Canadian olim were “housing and education…with bureaucracy and employment running close seconds. Jewish identification, however one defines Jewish, is the single most important motivation for remaining in Israel.” the AACI said. It noted that “these are conclusions drawn by a knowledgeable observer, not by the Commission” but that “fortunately the commissioners expressed an awareness that the hearings were only the beginning, the earlier part of their task….”

The Commission was established after the 41st annual convention of the ZOC held in Jerusalem last February when a number of Canadian slim reportedly approached delegates with their adjustment problems and complaints that they felt the Jewish community in Canada was ignoring them. The ZOC panel consisted of Gerald N.F. Charness, of Montreal, chairman, Max Goody of Toronto and Dr. Eli Adler, of Edmonton, Alberta.

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