How New Olim are Missing Out on a 7500-Shekel Benefit
Traditionally, new olim have studied Hebrew in ulpan for what is known as “5-5-5”: 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5 months, which amounts to 500 academic hours of study. This has been the case since 1949, just one year after the State was founded. And yet, after all these hours, people weren’t ready to go out and speak Hebrew in their day-to-day lives. This program wasn’t enough to bring people to the level of conversational proficiency they need.
In recent years, the Ministry of Absorption saw the need to enhance Hebrew study and decided to create an additional benefit. They devised a program where private institutions would teach Hebrew to small groups of new olim. The two benefits exist side by side: new olim could take both traditional public ulpan as well as private ulpan – they just need to finish one before starting the other.
Comparing Ulpan La-Inyan to Public Ulpan
But even though this benefit is so generous, only 5% of eligible olim actually took advantage of this right in 2017. Why?
- One reason is that people just aren’t aware of this right. People know about traditional ulpan, but the concept of a private AND subsidized ulpan is novel. And just like it took time for the iPod to revolutionize the world of recorded music, it has taken time for people to get used to the idea of this upgrade to Hebrew-learning. The word hasn’t spread because the concept is new.
- Also, not everyone in Misrad Haklita (the Ministry of Absorption) is familiar enough, so they’ve often failed to inform the olim of their right.
- Another reason why so few people have taken advantage of this great opportunity is that they get disqualified due to lack of familiarity with the eligibility rules (see the rules here). People who start attending a public ulpan and then stop, even if they’ve only gone to a few weeks of class, no longer qualify to take private ulpan until they have finished the public one. This happened to many people we’ve been in touch with, and, unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to help them.
- This benefit is only valid for 18 months from the date of aliyah, so many people miss out because they didn’t hear about it or act in time.
Here are the eligibility requirements:
- Made Aliyah in the last 18 months
- Age 17 or more
- Has either completed a previous public Ulpan or not yet started one
- Ezrach Oleh and Katin Chozer are included in this benefit
In 2018, Ulpan La-Inyan opened over 65 groups around the country. We are spreading the word so that new olim can take advantage of their rights.