TEL AVIV, October 11th, 2018 - Last night, over 250 olim from France, Russia, United States, Germany and other countries from around the world came together to celebrate the launch of Olim Beyachad, the only municipal party consisting almost entirely of new immigrants and dedicated to serve as their voice. Entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, doctors, retirees, artists, musicians and students flooded the venue in support of this new initiative. It was an evening filled with emotion, inspiration, humor and passion.
The party’s mission is to bring more municipal services and support to the olim. With thousands of immigrants moving to Tel Aviv on a yearly basis, the party aims to tackle the city’s integration system by serving the newcomers from a business, social and individual perspective.
The event featured the 13 party candidates, new and veteran immigrants made up of Anglophones, French, Russians, Germans and others from around the world, including those born to immigrant parents. It has also been attended by locals that came to support the vision of an inclusive Tel Aviv.
Among the speakers was French-born Olivier Rafowicz, head of the list and former colonel of the IDF. “This list is pretty much sums up the history of israel. We are just a few meters from the place where Israel was declared a state. For the first time, Jews of Russian and South American origin, Belgian, Swiss, and Israel come together to build and help the whole community of Tel Aviv. We live in a divided society. With Olim Beyachad, we speak to all the israelis, old and new. We believe there should be a voice...a voice of the Olim. We need to show other olim that we’re there for them.”
Russian-born, social and political activist and number 2 on the list, Boris Shindler, spoke in Hebrew and in Russian. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment for 2 years now. It’s time to represent us in all the languages and in this city that we all love!”
Vika Kanar, an entrepreneur of German-Russian origin, and number 3 on the list, spoke to the crowd, saying: “When I look at other campaigns, I don’t see the faces the that I see here tonight. I don’t see families, kids, the elderly. I don’t see religious people with non-religious people together. I see lists that divide. We need to get together in teams; we have all come together in order for us to represent you, the Olim, in this city!”
Liami Lawrence, number 4 on the list, originally from Los Angeles, addressed the audience, saying “so many people come here with huge dreams. If we all stick together and stand together, we will succeed at creating programs and services to help each other overcome difficulties associated with immigrating to this country. “
The guest speakers included Avi Pazner, Jessica Katz, Elena Kavurskaya and Rabbi Serror.
Avi Pazner, a retired Israeli diplomat and World Chairman of Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal. “We need the new immigrants to have a voice in the municipal council because until now, there isn't a voice for the olim. They have particular needs, such as education, adaptation, cultural integration, and until now - nothing. No one is speaking on their behalf. But today, you the olim have the possibility to have a voice within the municipal council. “
Jessica Katz, an American entertainer and singer/ songwriter that moved to Israel from New York and participated in "The Voice Israel, said, “this (the olim) is a giant community of people, and this (Olim Beyachad) is an important platform for people to come together.” Jessica, Steven Spielberg’s niece, then shared her story: “when I moved here, it took me 4 years to break in and develop the right connection - 4 years! It would be really great to help the new olim and help them explore their passions.”
Elena Kaluzhskaya, a recent Russian immigrant and founder of the popular Russian restaurant Vatrushka, said “I’m very happy to have a party like this. I hope that your party helps us succeed - i’m glad you exist!”
Local elections will be held on October 30th, 2018
About Olim Beyachad:
Founded in 2018, Olim Beyachad is a municipal party committed to provide the immigrants voters in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area with a voice in City Council.
Olim Beyachad has understood the needs of recent immigrants and the complex challenges they experience when settling in Tel Aviv, whether navigating the overly complicated bureaucracy, finding a meaningful job, securing affordable housing, and lacking access to vital information.
Photo Edward Stern