So you’re thinking of making aliyah. But do you know what you are signing up for? A fair number of Jewish North Americans who take that leap of faith that is aliyah soon limp back home in frustration. Brent (Baruch) Labinsky is confident that his new book, “A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel”, will help make the transition for new olim smoother and greatly improve their odds of making a successful aliyah.

The former Winnipegger (Brent is the son of Benson and Sharon Labinsky) and his wife, Tammy, made aliyah in 1993, shortly after their marriage. Baruch (who is a financial planner by profession) and Tammy now live in Ramat Beth Shemesh near Jerusalem and have seven children.

“When we made aliyah,” Labinsky recalls, “we learned by way of the school of hard knocks how difficult dealing with the bureaucracy here can be.”

While there is information about the aliyah process in different places, there is no one co-ordinated source, Labinsky notes. That is what he hopes his book will remedy.

The 230-page book covers the gamut of issues including having a financial plan, insurance issues, understanding the Israeli employment market, asset management in Israel, retirement and estate planning, the banking system, the tax system, renting or purchasing a home and living on an Israeli salary.

“The Israeli system may seem similar to what North Americans are used to,” Labinsky says, “but it is in reality quite different. Taxes, for example, are structured differently. Most Israelis don’t have to file tax returns. Taxes are automatically taken off their pay cheques. Only the self-employed are required to file returns.

“And the investment environment is very different.”

He notes that the Israeli standard of living is much closer to the North American standard than it used to be. Nevertheless, you have to be a lot more careful about how you spend your money, Labinsky cautions. Cars and homes are much more expensive. And you really have to save for larger expenditures such as simchas or retirement.

Readers of the book may want to start at the back and “Frequently Asked Questions”. Labinsky tackles questions such as where to go after you get off the plane (He recommends that you rent a place first until you have adjusted, built up a social network and decided where you want to live.), whether to take time to learn Hebrew on an ulpan or look for work immediately (he suggests doing both at the same time), how and where to open a bank account, what benefits new olim are entitled to, how to manage your finances in Israel and what to bring with you to Israel and how much it may cost.

He also includes in the book glossaries of financial and Hebrew terms.

“The number of olim who are coming from North America has been growing in recent years thanks to programs such as Nefesh b’Nefesh,” he says. “And there are tremendous opportunities. Virtually all North American olim find jobs within a year.”

He adds that the hi-tech industry in Israel in particular is flourishing. “Modern day Israel is an economic miracle,” he says. “The stock market is outperforming other major stock markets around the world.”

Labinsky is scheduled to be in Winnipeg on Thursday, January 17 to talk about his book and the financial elements of making Aliyah.

The book is available online at my website or from amazon.

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