Nowadays, when people choose to make Aliyah, they know that despite the challenges that accompany their decision, there are opportunities waiting for them in a thriving ecosystem with a supporting network.
But making Aliyah was not always this easy, and when we dive deeper into the foundations of Gvahim it becomes clear that it was the unique journey of one Oleh that paved the way for others.
In 2001, Moroccan-born Mickael Bensadoun
arrived in Israel with
a passion to build a career and forge a new path for himself.
With an Ivy League education from France and a phD from Hebrew University, Mickael assumed he would be well equipped to build
a professional life in Israel, but he soon discovered the many obstacles preventing him from achieving his goals.
One particular challenge that Mickael experienced was trying
to break into the Israeli job market. To his frustration, and despite his academic achievements and abilities, there was a missing link: he lacked the connections and network that his Israeli peers took for granted. He knew he needed to find a way “in” but felt alone without anyone to turn to for help and guidance.
One day, en route to France to visit his family, Mickael was waiting
in Ben Gurion airport for his flight. As he sat there he reflected on his struggles, contemplating giving up on his dreams. His troubled expression caught the attention of a nearby traveler, Eli Alaluf, who approached Mickael to see if he could offer comfort to this young stranger.
Mickael shared his story with Eli, along with his feelings of hopelessness, unaware that Eli was a high-ranking government official as well as a benevolent philanthropist. Eli was so moved by Mickael’s story that in one pivotal moment, he offered Mickael an internship at the Rashi Foundation and made introductions within his personal network including Gustave Leven, Eli Ayalon, and Yair Shamir.
Mickael grabbed this opportunity and while he started out
as an intern, he soon became a valued member of the team. With his newfound connections and the support of the Foundation, Mickael’s thoughts immediately turned to others in the same predicament he had been in, and he resolved to create a pathway for other highly qualified Olim to gain the tools and support they needed to find jobs in Israel.
Together with Gustave Leven, he initiated the first-ever Aliyah career and absorption program to help highly educated Olim land their first job in Israel. Their approach was so successful that it became
the blueprint for future programs, building a bridge between professional Olim and the Israeli ecosystem through mentoring, networking, and social acclimatization skills.
In 2006, Mickael identified the need to start an independent
non-profit organization to further his goals. It was then that Gvahim was born, Mickael working together with Yair Shamir to create this new initiative.
Gvahim (which translates as “heights”) was built on the premise that every Oleh should be able to enter the Israeli job market and gain the necessary connections to build a successful career.
Our mission is to facilitate the successful integration of new Olim into the Israeli labor market.
Each year, Gvahim helps thousands of Olim from around the world to gain essential tools and skills to enter the Israeli job market,
which in turn facilitates their integration into all areas of Israeli life.