Givat Shmuel, ISRAEL – Local Anglo olim chadashim have formed a nonprofit organization to expand the support and opportunities available for new immigrants in the area, calling the effort key to ensuring the community’s continued success in light of its exponential growth.
The English-speaking community in Givat Shmuel has been billed as Israel’s largest and fastest-growing community of “lone immigrants” – people who move to Israel without their families. Recent years have seen the group grow from a few handfuls of Bar-Ilan University students to over 900 students, young professionals, lone soldiers, and young families. It is this growth that prompted locals to band together and form The GSC – Givat Shmuel Community (R.A.), an organization dedicated towards helping new olim integrate into both the English-speaking community and Israel society.
“So much has changed since I moved here ten years ago,” notes interim Executive Chair, Ellie Somogyi. “Every year more and more young people move in, filled with ideas and energy. The GSC can channel those volunteers to give newcomers support and a ‘one-up’ as they acclimate to Israel. Becoming an Amuta gives us the ability to scale our activities and experiment with new initiatives.”
The GSC – Givat Shmuel Community (R.A.) is run entirely by local volunteers, organized into various ‘action groups,’ each focused on improving a specific aspect of immigrant life in the city. “We’re looking to scale the grassroots, bottom-up approach that brought Givat Shmuel this far. It’s our job to enable and foster community initiatives,” says Dovid Levine, one of the GSC’s founders and five-year Givat Shmuel resident. Working together informally for the last two years before applying for nonprofit status, GSC volunteers have tripled the amount of events and resources available to community members, as well as increased engagement and involvement by a factor of five.
“It’s amazing what these guys have built on a grassroots level. The community is the primary reason that so many prospective young olim ask us about Givat Shmuel,” says Benji Davis, Israel Program Manager at Nefesh B’Nefesh. Davis and NBN have been instrumental in The GSC’s development, enabling the initiative to expand its varied programming. “This new move is about ensuring the community’s success years down the line.”
In addition to expanding the current level of support available to community members, The GSC is working on several large projects, including a career mentorship program that pairs immigrant students with resident professionals in their chosen field. They are also actively raising funds to create a community “house” that can serve as a centralized hub for various events, as well as foster leadership among new immigrants, and even host prospective olim who are interested in checking out the community.