How New Olim are Missing Out on a 7500-Shekel Benefit
In 2017, the Israeli government saw the need for better Hebrew-language study. The government decided to extend the ulpan rights for new olim to include not only the traditional 5-5-5 (5 hours a day,5 days a week for 5 months) at a public ulpan, but also over 100 hours of class time at private institution offering Hebrew courses, in small groups of up to 8 students.
But for some reason, only 5% of eligible olim actually took advantage of this right. Why?
One reason is that people just don’t know about this right. People know that upon making aliyah, one goes to ulpan, which is a class of 30-50 students with a teacher-lecturer at the front. 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 the government office sponsoring this program – Misrad Haklita (the Ministry of Absorption) – is familiar enough with the right. So some office employees don’t pass the message on to the potential beneficiaries – the new olim.
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). For example, while a new oleh is entitled to both public and private ulpan, they cannot take both at the same time. So if someone starts attending a public ulpan and then stops in the middle, they no longer qualify to take private ulpan until they have either finished the public one or have obtained an exception from Misrad Haklita. They may also have missed the window of time during which to take advantage of this right – 18 months from the date of aliyah.
It is time to make private ulpan, the iPod of ulpan.