Israela – a New Path Home
An interview with Jaim Nadel
For 32 years Shalom Vach’s Aliyah organization Alyah de Groupe has been supporting thousands of families making Aliyah from France. 3 years ago, his son Col. Golan Vach – who heads the IDF’s famed National Rescue Unit of the Home Front Command – opened an extension organization Israela.
Israela, together with World Mizrachi, has taken the decades of experience in France and adapted it and offered it to families making Aliyah from South America. Israela, now in its third year of bringing groups of families on Aliyah – with the encouragement of the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, and partnering with the Jewish Agency and Nefesh b’Nefesh – is now expanding its support system into North America, England, South Africa and Australia, with the idea of having two groups of families making Aliyah this summer; an English-speaking group and a Spanish-speaking group.
World Mizrachi is proud to partner with Israela and to support family Aliyah with a formula that works – with a 98% success rate.
This interview with Jaim Nadel, one of the first families to make Aliyah with Israela is a glimpse into the secret of our success.
Tell us about your life’s journey.
My name is Jaim Nadel; I was born in Argentina in 1982 to a traditionalist family. When I was about bar mitzvah age, our entire family became ba’alei teshuva. I began studying in a Religious Zionist school and participated in Bnei Akiva activities. In Bnei Akiva, I served as a chanich, madrich, rosh snif, rosh machanot, and mazkir. It was a great and beautiful stage of life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t undergo hachshara (agricultural training programs) or Aliyah to join the IDF. But the idea of Aliyah always lingered in my mind.
I pursued a degree in public relations, got married, and had three children. Today, my children are 16, 13, and 10 years old. In 2008, I worked in the youth department of the Madrid community, and later, we returned to Argentina. In 2018, our entire family moved to Costa Rica to work in the Jewish community there.
How did you decide to make Aliyah?
As the pandemic wound down around mid-2021, my wife and I began exploring options to leave Costa Rica. Returning to Argentina was not an option, and we considered Panama or Mexico, Spanish-speaking countries with communities dedicated to Torah and mitzvot. However, my wife uttered a decisive phrase: “I want to stop moving; I want to settle in a place and feel at home.” That’s when I replied, “That can only be in one place – in Eretz Yisrael.” We calmly started the process with the Jewish Agency and began filling out the paperwork.
Was making Aliyah easy from your perspective?
By the end of 2021, we decided we needed to get to Israel by August 2022, so our children could start the school year on time. Filling out the Jewish Agency paperwork wasn’t difficult, but it was tedious, with many details and back-and-forth communications until Pesach 2022. Although the date loomed in our minds, with less than five months left, we had no concrete plans. We didn’t know where we wanted to live, we had many questions, and very few answers.
How did you get to know Israela?
When we were stuck during Chol Hamoed Pesach, an Israeli shaliach who taught in the school said to me, “Do you know about Israela? It helps with Aliyah, making it easier.” I said, “Okay, give me the contact, and I’ll call.” I spoke to Rabbi Tzvi Elon, whom I knew from when he was a shaliach in Uruguay. He explained the project, the assistance provided, the advantages of going as a group, and so on. After that phone conversation, I called my wife and said, “My love, we have our Aliyah plan, and it’s perfect,” because that’s how I felt. And with hindsight, I know we made the right choice.
How did everything unfold?
In a Zoom meeting, we met other families – all young families with school-age children, sharing a Latin culture and common goals, especially raising our children in a safe spiritual and physical environment. None of the group participants left their country for economic reasons. Everyone was idealistic.
The group gathered in Argentina and met in person at a beautiful shabbaton. Unfortunately, we couldn’t join them for Shabbat, but the positive energy was felt through Zoom and WhatsApp. We all shared the same doubts, fears, and anxieties, and being able to share and support each other was wonderful.
How did Israela help in the pre-Aliyah moments?
We had an issue with one of our documents for the Jewish Agency. I mentioned it to Israela’s directors, and they helped us get it and resolve the Jewish Agency folder. They also facilitated the approval of our folder more quickly. We stuck to our original plan, and set an Aliyah date: August 16, 2022.
The people at Israela looked for a house for us, sending us photos and budgets for apartments. We chose one, and they handled everything with the apartment owner. We just arrived and signed the contract. We also discussed the apartment’s furnishings, what we could afford, what we couldn’t, what we wanted, and so on.
How was the arrival in Israel?
Baruch Hashem, we left Costa Rica on August 16, 2022, as planned. It’s worth noting that making Aliyah with Israela doesn’t void the benefits you receive from the Jewish Agency. We arrived at Ben-Gurion at 1am on August 18. Despite the late hour, the airport was full of people who came to welcome us with songs, flags, and dancing. It was a dream-like experience, an emotion hard to describe in words. We arrived at our apartment, our new home. We had everything we needed; almost nothing was missing. It was like entering an Airbnb.
The story doesn’t end there; it’s actually just the beginning. Israela connected us with two Israeli families who helped us get settled throughout our first year. They helped us open a bank account, hire services, guided us on where to buy what we needed, invited us for Shabbat and holidays, and much more. It was incredible chesed.
What happened with the group of olim? The kehilla?
Everyone arrived within a few weeks. Thank G-d, we integrated wonderfully. We spent a lot of time together, especially on Shabbat. We are also part of a Religious Zionist garin with more than 60 families, so not only do we maintain our Latin culture, but we quickly learned Hebrew and all about Israeli culture. We shared everything – activities, schools, joys, and unfortunately, some sorrows. Our religious heterogeneity dissipated; we all grew spiritually and strengthened our connection with Hashem, Torah, and mitzvot. The atmosphere, the group, the kehilla – all contributed to our growth. And we have also faced the war together, doing our part to help Am Yisrael overcome and, G-d willing, achieve victory.
Making group Aliyah with Israela was a very wise decision. It’s worth learning about the program, asking questions, and removing all doubts. Israel is waiting for you!