Aiming to increase awareness of aliya by encouraging friends and family to share in the journey, Nefesh B'Nefesh has launched the Best Job Contest and the Wedding Gift Challenge (www.thisismyisrael.com). Contestants vie for the votes that can win them one-year positions at 10 successful Israeli companies or a $10,000 wedding gift and other prizes.
“Over the past few years we've noticed a growing trend of young couples and professionals making aliya. They're taking advantage of the healthy job market and great social opportunities available in Israel,” said Marc Rosenberg, director of pre-aliya for Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Each contestant posts his or her photo, background, or professional credentials and the story of their personal connection to the Land of Israel.
Melody Mostow, 22, one of the leading contenders for the grand prize, is in the middle of a whirlwind of activity; she's finishing up exams to graduate from college, planning her August wedding, and making aliya arrangements.
“I don't even think I've ever been in a contest before,” she said. “But I'm a political science major so I love campaigns and mobilizing people. When I saw the contest on Facebook, I knew that this is a campaign I can really get behind. The mission is to raise awareness of aliya, and I think we've told our story to everyone we know who's breathing.”
Canvassing for votes from as many friends, relatives , and strangers as possible, she has succeeded in spreading the word far and wide. “When they called me up to the stage for the senior graduation ceremony, my department head mentioned the contest in front of everyone. It was very funny since I hadn't even told him about it.”
Mostow, who grew up in Pittsburgh, and her fiance, Avi, who is from Highland Park, Ill., first met on their gap year in Israel. Now they are gearing up to make aliya, a mere 16 days after their wedding. “We're really living the dream,” she said. But even dreams require decidedly worldly gear. “I think we already won the Ikea shopping spree, which will be incredibly helpful,” she said. “Although we're not in the lead for the main prize anymore.”
Melody, who interned in the Knesset last summer, hopes to work in the Israeli government in some capacity; her husband-to-be plans to put his business degree in real estate and financing to good use.
Brandon Cohen, a 23-year-old East Coast native, is an e-commerce manager at Bed, Bath and Beyond. He is currently in second place in the Best Job contest, which gives him a good shot at winning one of the jobs being awarded. “There are a few positions that seem right for me,” he said. “Especially the brand management position at Soda Stream since that's a job I've done before.”
Cohen hopes to make aliya within a year. “Getting a full-time job in Israel would definitely speed up the process,” he said.
His introduction to Israel began when his older brother Ian attended medical school in Tel Aviv. “We were in constant contact those years, and he told me about all the amazing things he was seeing and doing. Then when I came on Birthright after my freshman year, I extended my trip, and Ian took me around to the places he had told me about.”
Ian Cohen is now in the states but plans to make aliya. His brother began to consider aliya in February and soon after saw an ad for the NBN Aliyah Mega Events.
“Since I began sharing what I've learned from Nefesh B'Nefesh,” he said, “my friends and family have all been positive about it. It’s actually started some of them thinking about aliya as well.”