Zionism in the South

Approx. 20 new immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States followed their Zionist impulse and made their way to Be’er Sheva in order to learn and further develop themselves in Israel. Through their participation in a joint program managed by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration in collaboration with the SCE College, the Lauder Employment Center and the Kivunim Organization, they get a chance to study, live and work in hi-tech jobs in Be’er Sheva

During the 8 years she worked in a bank in Moscow, Alona Kanissanev dreamt of finding a new beginning in Israel. After she and her husband came to Israel, they attended a diving course in Eilat and fell in love with the South. The same is true for 29-year-old Anastasia Ixer, who came directly to the southern region of Israel from Odessa, Ukraine, and worked for several months as a cashier. Both women hold a B.Sc., and both were accepted to a unique M.Sc. program at SCE, let by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and by the Kivunim Organization.

The unique program offered to new immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States combines studies, work and leisure activities. The three-year program includes studies at an Ulpan, studies towards an M.Sc. degree in Software Engineering from the SCE College, unique content and trips around Israel, living arrangements in the south of Israel, different scholarships and a dedicated employment course provided by the Lauder Employment Center.

Other than Alona and Anastasia, 12 other immigrants who came to Israel in 2019 from the Commonwealth of Independent States started the program and their studies towards a degree. All these Program participants are between the ages of 23 and 30, and all of them came to Israel with a B.Sc. degree, with no knowledge of Hebrew and with a great deal of motivation to stay and live in the Negev. In their first year in the Program, they studied in Ulpan and in the preparatory program at SCE, and now, in their 2nd year, they are studying towards their M.Sc. degree in Hebrew, like all the other students in the College. Maggi Guberman, the International Academic Program Coordinator at the College, who provides guidance to the participants of the Program, says that the SCE College offers them assistance with materials studied in a foreign language through tutoring lessons, one-on-one teaching hours and reviews of the studies materials, but still, the studies themselves are conducted only in Hebrew.

The Program combines studies with employment, and in order to offer the new immigrants, who will take their place in the local market, with a glimpse into the world of the Israeli hi-tech industry, a special collaboration was formed with the Lauder Employment Center, which offers them guidance. As part of these activities, the Lauder Employment Center offered students participating in the Program a special career building course, which lasted several weeks and was taught by the mentor Ilana Ginzburg, a senior HR Director at Rezillion, a global cyber company. The course included preparation for job hunting and for integration into the job market in Israel, and specifically in its southern region, and also included specific training for skills such as teamwork, writing a CV, conduct in a job interview, and self-branding on LinkedIn. Ilana also refers to the great gap existing between the job market in the Commonwealth of Independent States and in Israel.

Alona and Anastasia have recently found jobs: Alona has been accepted for work as a software engineer in a hi-tech company operating in the South, and Anastasia has found work in the field of HR in the hi-tech industry. Alona says: “The world of employment here is quite different than the one in Russia. Everything is different there. LinkedIn doesn’t exist and the culture is completely different. That’s why it took me some time to understand what I should do. I am happy for the opportunity I got. I never dreamt that I would know Hebrew, hold a B.Sc. in software engineering and work in an Israeli hi-tech company”. Anastasia says: “The studies in Israel helped me understand what I was good at, what I loved doing and where I should be. I didn’t believe that in one year I would learn Hebrew and find a field of work that I would love so much”.

Dr. Avshalom Danoch, The Head of the Academic Administration at the College and the person leading the program on its behalf, says that “As part of the College’s mission to develop excellence in different populations and to promote a flourishing society, we have initiated, together with our amazing partners, a program which encourages young people from the Commonwealth of Independent States to come to Israel, learn an applicative trade and successfully integrate into Israeli society”.