Using the OU National Convention, held over Thanksgiving weekend, as a venue, the OU brought together English-speaking, job-seeking olim and potential olim with prospective employers for the first-ever OU Israel Job &?Aliyah Fair.
Organizers anticipated 750 participants. Two thousand showed up.
By the close of the fair, which was held over a three-day period in the Ramada Jerusalem hotel, some participants walked away with jobs, others with promising possibilities and still others picked up valuable connections.
Despite the ailing economy, over the past year and a half the OU Job Board has helped 1,100 Jews in the United States find gainful employment. Aiming to repeat this success in Israel, the OU used its tried-and-true methods to assist olim. At the fair, sixty-two companies, including Kodak, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Remax and Green Point Technology Services, Ltd., sought to fill more than 600 positions in fields as varied as accounting, law, medicine, engineering, real estate, education and technology.
“I was overwhelmed by the number of both employers and olim,” says Srulie Rosner, director of the OU Job Board. “The turnout underscores how crucial this program was to the OU’s convention.”
In addition to in-person interviews, the job fair also offered sessions on tailoring resumes for the Israeli employer. Job seekers, who had ready access to computers, wireless Internet and printers, were assisted by volunteers from the fair’s co-sponsors: The Jewish Agency for Israel and Merkaz Hamagshimim-Hadassah, an organization that offers cultural and community programs for immigrants, tourists and Israelis. For the aliyah-minded, the fair also featured a “Community Event,” where representatives from sixteen English-speaking communities throughout Israel, as well as real estate agents, developers and builders, briefed potential olim on possible places in which to build their future homes.
According to Rosner, the Jewish Agency served as a pivotal partner in organizing some of the fair’s key components. By contacting communities throughout Israel, supplying expert resume writers and getting the word out to the press, “[the Jewish Agency] played a leading role in making this event a success,” he says.
With the US economy in the midst of a crippling recession, the Job Board, along with the OU’s Department of Community Services, also recently launched Project C.H.E.S.E.D. (Community Help in Education, Social Services, Empowerment/Employment and Development). The project is a fourteen-point proactive program that helps communities in the US reach out to families struggling under the financial and emotional hardships caused by the current economic crisis.
Stephen J. Savitsky, OU president, sums up the vital importance of the OU Job Board and its programs: “Finding employment for Jews and helping them stand on their own two feet is the highest level of tzedakah.”
The OU and Mr. Rosner would like to express their gratitude to the following individuals who played instrumental roles in ensuring the success of the Fair: Shira Barzilay of Merkaz Hamagshimim-Hadassah; Akiva Werber and Chana Dobkin of the Jewish Agency; “our online friends” Job Shuk and Job Mob; and Director-General, OU Israel Rabbi Avi Berman and his staff.
Bayla Sheva Brenner is senior writer in the OU Communications and Marketing Department.