Behind the Headlines Yordim Are Returning Home

More than 2,350 former Israelis returned to live in Israel in 1984, after residing for many years in the United States and Canada, according to Consul Amos Haddad, the chief representative of Israel’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in the U.S. and Canada.

In a special interview with the Jewish Telegrahic Agency here, Haddad warned, however, that the economic crisis in Israel might have an adverse affect on returning Israelis, who are referred to as “yordim.” He noted that during the last year 2,353 Israelis returned to Israel, compared with 2,346 the previous year.

“This is a marginal increase in the number of returning Israelis,” he pointed out. “We expected more Israelis to return in 1984. But whenever there are uncertainties in Israel — such as the recession and the war in Lebanon in 1984 — there is a decrease in the number of returning Israelis.”

Haddad said his office estimates that there are at least some 250,000 to 300,000 former Israelis — or yordim — living in the United States. He said this number was carefully arrived at from figures supplied by American immigration authorities and the Israeli Consulate in New York.

EMPLOYMENT AVAILABLE FOR PROFESSIONALS

According to Haddad, the availability of employment for professionals in Israel is the major factor in the return of Israelis to their homeland. Therefore, he pointed out, his office is more successful in increasing the number of returning Israeli academics, especially engineers, computer experts and scientists.

“Last year alone the number of academics who returned to Israel was 1,301,” Haddad noted. He said that there is growing demand for professional, academic manpower in Israel and that many Israeli industries are increasingly looking to recruit Israeli engineers and scientists who presently live in the United States and Canada.

But Haddad noted that most of the yordim are not academics, and finding employment for them in Israel today, where unemployment is on the rise, is almost an impossible mission.

Haddad said, in response to a question, that he could not predict the number of Israelis who will return to Israel in 1985. “On the one hand, we know that there will be an increase in the number of Israeli academics returning home, but on the other hand, it is clear that the economic crisis in the country will have an impact on the over-all number of returnees,” he said.

Haddad said that presently there are 10,850 Israeli families registered in his office for the process of returning home. Last year alone, 3,922 families joined the list, compared with 1,750 in 1983, he said. Asked for the reasons that make Israelis decide to return home after years in America, Haddad said:

“First, there are the very attractive offers of employment, with relatively high salaries and opportunities to advance. Another factor is the wish of many Israelis to raise their children in a total Jewish environment and give them a Jewish education. Many of them feel that they cannot provide the same Jewish education for their children in America. And third, many feel that it is simply a time to go and live at home after so many years of living abroad.”

NEXT STORY