April 16, 2024
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April 16, 2024
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Nefesh B’Nefesh’s MedEx Initiative Goes International

(l-r) Dr. Osnat Luxenburg, Israeli Ministry of Health; Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart; Ofir Sofer, minister of aliyah and integration; and Avichai Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. (Credit: Shahar Azran)

The added excitement in the air at Sunday’s Nefesh B’Nefesh MedEx event at the Glenpointe Hotel in Teaneck was due to the imminent launching of the newly founded International Medical Aliyah Program (IMAP). After eight enormously successful years of facilitating placements and expediting licensing for thousands of North American medical professionals, NBN is expanding this service to serve communities around the world. After its March 10 event in Teaneck, NBN will hold its first European MedEx event in Paris on March 31, as the first of its newly founded IMAP. Present to celebrate this milestone with the North American community were NBN Co-Founders and Directors Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart; Ofir Sofer, Israel’s minister of aliyah and integration; Avichai Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration; MK Yonatan Mashriki, Knesset health committee chairman; and Yossi Amrani, Israel’s consul general in New York.

Minister Sofer praised the support given to our combat soldiers in the South and North of Israel by physicians at Sheba and Soroka Hospitals in response to over 15 horrific attacks in the last month alone. He praised the Israeli and international outpouring of solidarity with Israel and NBN for supporting medical volunteers logistically and financially, enabling them to join the medical war effort. Co-Chair and Director of NBN Tony Gelbart added that when the call came out for medical volunteers, over 12,000 respondents from around the world reached out. Even though only hundreds were needed on the ground, thousands expressed a willingness to join. This response assures NBN that their new initiative, IMAP, will be most successful throughout the world.

Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart; Yossi Amrani, Israel’s consul general in New York; and Ofir Sofer, minister of aliyah and integration, with medical professionals who volunteered in Israel during the war. (Credit: Shahar Azran)

Consul General Yossi Amrani shared that he had just returned from the Central Park Rally in New York City in support of the return of the 134 hostages. “These two events being held simultaneously represent the strength of Jewish life and the positive identity of the Jewish people. The doctors who came to Israel at its time of crisis and who are still coming are an embodiment of the united spirit of Am Yisrael and their guaranteed commitment to its safety and future.”

Throughout the day, hundreds of medical professionals from all fields of the medical world visited the stations of the most prominent hospitals throughout Israel, speaking to CEOs, top administrators and directors of divisions about the specific positions available and the fields most sought after. These included government and non-government hospitals as well as kupot cholim and emergency medical centers.

The Jewish Link spoke with Dr. Zev Wimpfheimer, medical director of Terem Beit Shemesh, who is originally from Teaneck. He shared that there are currently 30 Terem Emergency Medical Centers throughout Israel, from Nahariya to Eilat. Founded over 30 years ago by olim, most of Terem’s senior managers and directors have an Anglo background. Currently they are looking to fill positions in urgent care, pediatrics, family medicine and orthopedic surgery. They welcome beginning physicians as they offer extensive training. Working for Terem offers opportunities for flexible scheduling, quick advancement in medical management, convenient locations, collaborative clinical support, professional growth opportunities and hybrid work options, among many other positive considerations.

Dr. Maurit Beeri, MD, MPA, director general of ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem, shared how this 100-year-old, world-renowned pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation center is being impacted by the war in Gaza. An entirely new population entered the scene when the evacuees of the Southern Israeli communities found shelter in Jerusalem hotels. In addition to their sorely needed physical therapies, which were abruptly interrupted, these children and adolescents were now facing emotional challenges, which were compounding their physical situations. Day services were provided to these youngsters, which added tremendously to the daily responsibilities of ALYN’s medical staff. Dr. Beeri was pleased at the opportunity MedEx afforded to recruit more medical personnel for ALYN, specifically in the fields of pediatrics, physiatry, intensive care and work with chronic ventilators, and developmental professionals.

Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart; Ofir Sofer, minister of aliyah and integration; Avichai Kahana, director general of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration; and MK Yonatan Mashriki, Knesset health committee chairman, with medical professionals at the Nefesh B’Nefesh MedEx event 2024. (Credit: Shahar Azran)

Hailing from West Orange and living in Efrat, Abby Kra Friedman was at the MedEx event, surrounded by a group of young nurses who had come either at the beginning of their aliyah process or at the last steps of licensing before actual aliyah. Together with Dr. Caryn Andrews, Friedman heads a volunteer organization called Nurses Making Aliyah, currently with a membership of 1400, some who have made aliyah, some who are in the process and some who are in various stages of planning. Residing in Efrat for the past 18 years, Friedman has served as an administrator in academic nursing programs as well as a certified staff midwife at Hadassah Ein Kerem. Through Nurses Making Aliyah, Friedman has been involved in peer support through CV and placement, licensing and post licensing. Through her involvement with the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses, Friedman has been involved in the move to improve nurse mobility in Israel and worldwide.

Friedman offers the following advice to those considering a nursing career in Israel: “Come with faith, patience and lower expectations for remuneration. Be flexible and have the ability to walk on. Realize that the healthcare system in Israel is different from that in the U.S., but excellent.” Friedman shared that Israel is working on creating more positions for nurse practitioners and is trying to catch up with the OECD ratio of nine nurses to 1000 patients. Friedman expressed appreciation for the opportunity MedEx has provided to nurses from throughout the U.S. to expedite their licensing and aliyah processes at one efficient and congenial venue.

There was a station in the hallway offering an Ulpan La Inyan for healthcare professionals making aliyah. Through Zoom courses, this specialized ulpan program offers online courses for advanced Hebrew speakers through a practical and effective method through which they can acquire a vocabulary related to their profession, apply and practice professional language in various situations that arise while on duty, read and write documents in Hebrew relevant to their work and become familiar with the culture and structure of the Israeli healthcare system. These goals are achieved through group sessions online as well as self-study aids, practical tasks and individual guidance.

In proudly summing up the MedEx event, Co-Founder of NBN Rabbi Yehoshua Fass shared with The Jewish Link that throughout the day, 450 medical professionals would be exploring opportunities at over 50 hospitals and medical facilities in Israel, while another 250 would be beginning or completing their licensing process. Concurrently, on the second floor, medical professionals would be completing the final steps of their aliyah process through apostille and notary documentation as well as fingerprinting. “All in one day and under one roof!”

A beaming Louisa Schindelheim, a dentist from Pittsburgh, flew in for the day to complete her licensing in preparation for her family’s planned aliyah to Efrat this summer.

Founded in 2002, NBN, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA, has facilitated the aliyah of 80,000 olim to Israel, of whom 90% have remained and built thriving and meaningful lives.

To learn more about Nefesh B’Nefesh visit them at www.nbn.org.il.

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