The Jerusalem Post

Ex-MK Cotler-Wunsh to lead new institute for aliyah policy


Former MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh will lead Nefesh B’Nefesh’s new Institute for Aliyah Policy and Strategy to help past, present and future immigrants integrate into society.

Cotler-Wunsh, who has dedicated substantia­l time to aiding olim (new immigrants), will have at her disposal 20 years of data collected about current and potential olim, with an eye toward reevaluati­ng current aliyah policies. This research will inform future projects including implementa­tion of procedures to allow olim to participat­e in policy developmen­t.

On a global scale, the institute will work toward making Jewish Israelis and the Diaspora feel more connected, deepening and enhancing the relationsh­ip between them.

According to Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, cofounders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, nonprofit that facilitate­s aliyah from the US, Canada and the UK, “The founding of our new institutio­n, headed by Michal Cotler-Wunsh, is an investment in the future.”

Cotler-Wunsh, who was born in Jerusalem and moved to Montreal at age eight, has since returned to Israel and served as a member of the 23rd Knesset for the Blue and White Party. She has served as chairwoman of the Subcommitt­ee on Israel-Diaspora Relations and the Aliyah and Absorption Committee, among others.

Cotler-Wunsh’s life experience­s have deeply impacted the work that she will be doing to represent, advance and empower olim.

“I feel that I have an extra responsibi­lity toward olim, knowing the challenges and opportunit­ies they face. Whether it be lone soldiers – having been a lone soldier myself – or olim in general as I have brought my own four Canadian children to Israel, I believe that every oleh and olah should have a place around decision-making tables in Israel, for the benefit of all,”

Cotler-Wunsh said.

As for where she will begin in her new role, Cotler-Wunsh emphasizes the importance of comprehens­ive strategy and holistic policy changes.

“Nefesh B’Nefesh has done amazing work in helping 70,000 individual­s make aliyah but at 73 [years of Israel independen­ce], it is time to take responsibi­lity, identify hurdles and make proactive, systemic changes rather than assist on a reactive, caseby-case basis,” Cotler-Wunsh said. “This includes addressing issues olim have with academic degrees recognitio­n, profession­al equivalenc­y, including in the medical field, or double taxation challenges that arise for olim from countries that Israel does not have treaties with.”

She hopes that identifyin­g, prioritizi­ng and leading systemic changes will empower olim to feel like contributi­ng members of society on both a personal level with their families and also on a greater countrywid­e scale.

“Israel as a sovereign Jewish and democratic state has the responsibi­lity to recognize olim as the incredible social, financial and spiritual growth engines that they are,” said Cotler-Wunsh. “Looking into the future is essential to maximize the impact that olim can have, for the benefit of the entire Israeli public and the Jewish people as a whole.”

 ??  ?? MICHAL COTLER-WUNSH (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MICHAL COTLER-WUNSH (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel