Your successful Aliyah requires a tremendous amount of planning and research, and the more you know in advance, the more likely you are to plan effectively and create a positive experience for yourself and your family. A pilot trip is an essential step in learning what your options are and making the best possible Aliyah decisions.
One of the main goals of a pilot trip is to research job opportunities in your field and connect with professional colleagues in Israel. You cannot expect to actually land a job while you are on your pilot trip, since most employers will not be interested in hiring you until after you’ve actually made Aliyah. However, you can jump-start your job search by building up a strong professional network and conducting extensive market research. See Networking for more information. Before you come on your pilot trip, set up informational interviews with each of the professionals on your personal contact list, and if you feel you don’t have enough professional contacts, the Nefesh B’Nefesh employment department is happy to help you.
Another main goal of a pilot trip is exploring communities in Israel and deciding which community has the housing options, employment opportunities, population age, religious affiliation, medical services, lifestyle and financial range that best meet your needs. If you have school-age children, researching schooling options is a large part of this decision-making process. When a pilot trip is scheduled close to your target Aliyah date, you can also use this visit as an opportunity to check out housing rentals and (if you’re lucky) sign a contract for the first year of your Aliyah. When designing your pilot trip, plan to spend a Friday/Shabbat in the community that is your first choice. For information about communities in Israel, see the Nefesh B’Nefesh Communities Guide.
If you’re coming on Aliyah in retirement, a main goal of your pilot trip is meeting with financial planners and retirement consultants. You’ll want to learn the details of Israeli and American/Canadian/UK tax laws as they apply to expatriates in Israel, check out health care options and verify how your pension and other financial resources translate into different lifestyle choices in Israel. You will want to explore the informal communities of English-speaking retirees that exist in Israel, and you may also be interested in investigating the many activities for seniors that are available (including volunteer opportunities).
NBN Assistance in Planning Your Trip
While there are no hard and fast rules regarding pilot trips and you can design your trip however is appropriate for you, most Olim find it effective to come on a 1 to 2 week trip, scheduled approximately 4 to 8 months before your target Aliyah date. If you have teenagers in your family and if it’s financially possible, it might be a good idea to bring them with you on your pilot trip, in order for them to feel more comfortable with the move. On the other hand, if you have small children it’s best to leave them at home, so that the trip can be more productive.
The Nefesh B’Nefesh staff also provides one-on-one counseling for individuals who are planning pilot trips.
- If you have specific questions regarding employment, be in touch with the Employment department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have questions about communities and schooling options, please write to email@example.com.
- If you need other types of assistance related to planning your Aliyah, please be in touch with our Aliyah Guidance & Process Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the counseling that Nefesh B’Nefesh provides, other organizations are available that help you focus on developing a pilot trip in the most effective way possible:
- AACI’s comprehensive pilot trip program offers perspective Olim a choice of pilot trips to help them make intelligent, educated decisions about their Aliyah. Group, individual, community and customized pilot trips cover every aspect of life in Israel. Click here for information about private pilot trips or email email@example.com for information about group pilot trips.
- Makbilit, located in Jerusalem and Efrat, provides educational consulting and has particular experience working with children with learning disabilities. See here.
- Huduyou is a recently-founded Israel-based company dedicated to helping you find capable service providers recommended by trusted sources. It offers ratings, recommendations, and ability to share with friends via Facebook. You will be able to contact the provider to verify if there are any discounts offered that apply for NBN Olim seeking services and for those on pilot trips.The site does require a Facebook login but for those who do not have Facebook, the site will provide a regularly updated PDF list of businesses and services.
While you are in Israel on your pilot trip, be sure to visit the Nefesh B’Nefesh office and meet with staff members to discuss your developing Aliyah plans.