How To Start Your Aliyah Story

Make sure you are eligible for Aliyah:

All Jews are eligible to make Aliyah under the Law of Return. You will need to provide documentation proving your status to both Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency. This is usually just a letter from your rabbi attesting that you are, in fact Jewish. If you converted to Judaism, you are eligible for Aliyah whether you had a Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox conversion. You will need to provide proof of your conversion as well, so be sure to have your original conversion documents. Note that this means you are eligible for Aliyah, not that you will necessarily be considered Jewish in Israel. The Israeli Rabbinate only recognizes Orthodox conversions from a select number of Diaspora rabbis. If you had a non-orthodox conversion or your Orthodox rabbi is not on the approved list, you may have to go through another conversion process in Israel if you want to live as part of a religious community or marry another Jew within Israel. In addition to this, a non-Jew may make Aliyah if they have a Jewish spouse, parent, or grandparent.

Complete your Aliyah Application through Nefesh B’Nefesh (if you live in the US, Canada, or the UK):

This is actually a reasonably quick and easy step to finish. Make an account with Nefesh B’Nefesh and browse through some of the questions on the application. The more family members on the application, the longer the process will take, but all in all the website is very user-friendly and simple to complete.

Speak with Nefesh B’Nefesh advisers through online meetings, and attend the informative webinars offered on the site for free:

Nefesh B’Nefesh advisers are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in helping people make Aliyah. As your Aliyah date approaches, they increasingly reach out to see where you are in the process and are available for any assistance you’ll need. There’s also an archive on their website filled with several hours of recorded webinars. These range over all kinds of topics, from finding a place to live and budgeting to healthcare and leasing a car.

Make a pilot trip (or several) to Israel. Get a feel of the different communities to help you figure out where you want to live:

I cannot stress enough the importance of making a pilot trip to Israel. If you are financially able to make a pilot trip before Aliyah- do it. If you cannot afford a pilot trip, reach out to Nefesh B’Nefesh and they MAY be able to help you find a way to get a subsidized trip. This is not a guarantee, though. Pilot trips are essential for understanding where you are moving to, the culture, researching job opportunities, and schools for your children. I recently took my parents on their first pilot trip to Israel. But making Aliyah without a pilot trip is like moving blind and should be avoided if at all possible.

Meet with the Jewish Agency:

You will need to bring your original documents in order for them to verify you are eligible for Aliyah. If you don’t live in the US, Canada, or the UK you will start your Aliyah process by contacting the Jewish Agency. Once the Jewish Agency approves you, you are effectively approved for Aliyah. Update: The Jewish Agency is now conducting meetings online via Zoom. You will have to mail your documents to them via FedEx.

Obtain Your Aliyah Visa:

After you receive your “mazal tov” email (Aliyah approval) from the Jewish Agency, you will send (via FedEx) the relevant documents to your assigned Israeli consulate to get an Aliyah visa. The consulates are often very busy, and it can take a long time before they send your visa and return your documents. The visa itself is a sticker that they stick on a page inside your passport. Once your visa is issued, it is only valid for 6 months. If you do not make Aliyah within that time, you will need to apply for another Aliyah visa. 

Pick a Flight Date:

After you have been approved for Aliyah, your Aliyah profile on NBN will have a new section where you can pick your flight. You’ll be able to choose between different dates, as well as the location of your Aliyah flight. If you don’t live near one of the Aliyah airports, you’ll need to coordinate with Nefesh B’Nefesh to schedule an appropriate connecting flight. Update: Nefesh B’Nefesh now has flights available from El Al and United airlines. Each airline has its own rules regarding baggage. Contact the NBN flight coordinator for up to date information.

Start packing, and good luck!

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