Aliya advocate group seeks funding to keep new immigrants in country

“Nefesh B’ Nefesh claims that it is seven percent and the Jewish Agency claims that it is 12 percent, but I’m saying that it’s more than 40 percent,” says Liami Lawrence, a Californian immigrant and the founder of the Keep Olim in Israel movement, referring to the rate at which new immigrants from the west give up and return to their countries of origin.


A stand-up comic and former male stripper from Beverly Hills, Lawrence, whose first name means ‘I am for my nation’ in Hebrew, founded the movement, now more than 20,000 strong on Facebook, as a way of connecting newcomers to Israel with one another as a sort of 21st century mutual support group.


Having seen dozens of friends and acquaintances give up on Israel over the last few years, Lawrence decided to take the movement in a new direction, applying for non-profit status and now attempting to raise $100,000 on the Jewish crowdfunding site Jewcer.


Dozens of olim, as well as native Israeli figures, listed reasons for living in Israel in Lawrence’s video on his campaign page, citing such motivating factors as “family, Zionism, home, tradition, duty, destiny, truth, passion, love and mitzva.”


Meanwhile, celebrities such as Israeli comedian Shahar Hason and American-Israeli Broadway actor Mike Burstyn chimed in, stating that they “support olim.”


“So much money and resources are spent on bringing olim (immigrants) to Israel, but not enough is done to keep them here,” he wrote on his appeals page.


Read More: Aliya advocate group seeks funding to keep new immigrants in country – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post