Thanks to an extensive publicity campaign by Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization emissaries over the past two years, Aliyah has become a stronger presence in French public awareness, and many French Jews see it as a real option. Unlike immigrants from distressed countries who have compelling reasons to emigrate that often intensify over time, and in contrast to idealists motivated by a Zionist-pioneer ethos, the average oleh (immigrant) from an affluent country is unwilling to forego employment in the field for which s/he trained, or embark on an entirely new vocational training path at the bottom of the pay scale. The unique attributes of these potential olim differ from those of of earlier immigration waves. In the past, most governmental effort was directed at highlighting Israel’s advantages and encouraging Aliyah and providing initial absorption services (including teaching Hebrew in ulpan settings). Employment was relegated to the post-ulpan period.
In our view, accelerating the pace of immigration from France does not entail augmenting current Aliyah-management efforts. Nor is there a need for aggressive marketing campaigns or additional Aliyah fairs. What is needed is a response to the basic needs of employment, including degree recognition, professional training, job placement, and assistance in finding affordable housing.