Have you ever entered a contest to win cash, a camera or maybe just dinner for two? Get ready for the ultimate prize upgrade – the chance to win a full-time job. In a new spin on the entire concept of online contests, Nefesh B’Nefesh has launched the Best Job Contest and the Wedding Gift Challenge (www.thisismyisrael.com). These two innovative social media initiatives are stirring up a storm of buzz about Aliyah, as contestants vie for the votes that can win them one-year positions at 10 impressive Israeli companies or a $10,000 wedding gift and other prizes.
Why target engaged couples and professionals? “Over the past few years we’ve noticed a growing trend of young couples and professionals making Aliyah. They’re taking advantage of the healthy job market and great social opportunities available in Israel,” explains Marc Rosenberg, Director of Pre-Aliyah for Nefesh B’Nefesh. “These contests increase awareness of Aliyah by encouraging friends and family to share in the journey, and actively follow and support the contestants as they launch careers and start new lives in Israel.”
Despite minimal advertising, dozens of enthusiastic and hopeful future Olim have already entered, and close to 15,000 supportive friends, relatives and others have already cast their votes for the wedding contest alone. Each contestant posts his or her photo, background or professional credentials and above all, the story of their personal connection to the land of Israel.
Will the lucky couple be Aimee and Elan or maybe Sali and Aaron? Check the vote tally on the wedding cake next to each couple’s page and you too can follow the race. We recently caught up with Melody Mostow, 22, one of the leading contenders for the grand prize. Melody is in the middle of a whirlwind of activity; she’s finishing up exams to graduate college, planning her August wedding and making Aliyah arrangements, all at the same time. “I don’t even think I’ve ever been in a contest before,” she admits with a laugh. “But I’m a political science major so I love campaigns and mobilizing people. When I saw the contest on Facebook I knew, this is a campaign I can really get behind. The mission is to raise awareness of Aliyah and I think we’ve told our story to everyone we know who’s breathing!” Canvassing for votes from as many friends, relatives and strangers as possible, has indeed succeeded in spreading the word far and wide. “When they called me up to the stage for the senior graduation ceremony, my department head mentioned the contest in front of everyone. It was very funny since I hadn’t even told him about it.”
Melody, who grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and her fiancee Avi, who hails from Highland Park, Illinois, first met on their gap year in Israel. Now they are gearing up to make Aliyah, a mere 16 days after their wedding. “We’re really living the dream,” she exclaims. But even dreams require decidedly worldly gear. “I think we already won the Ikea shopping spree, which will be incredibly helpful” she reports. “Although we’re not in the lead for the main prize anymore.”
What’s ahead for Melody and Avi? Avi plans to put his business degree in real estate and financing to good use, while Melody, who interned in the Knesset last summer, hopes to work in the Israeli government in some capacity.
Heading over to the job contestants, we spoke with Brandon Cohen, a 23-year-old East Coast native who is employed as an e-commerce manager at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Brandon is currently in second place, which gives him a good shot at winning one of the jobs being awarded. “There are a few positions that seem right for me,” he mentions. “Especially the brand management position at Soda Stream since that’s a job I’ve done before.” Brandon hopes to make Aliyah within a year and notes that “Getting a full-time job in Israel would definitely speed up the process.”
Brandon’s introduction to Israel began when his older brother Ian attended medical school in Tel Aviv. “We were in constant contact those years, and he told me about all the amazing things he was seeing and doing. Then when I came on Birthright after my freshman year, I extended my trip and Ian took me around to the places he had told me about.” Brandon’s brother is now in the states but plans to make Aliyah in the future. Brandon began to consider Aliyah in February and soon after, saw an ad for the NBN Aliyah Mega Events. He and his parents attended the event held in New York and it was a real eye-opener. “I didn’t know there was a program that helps you every step of the way.” Since then Brandon opened a file with NBN. He looks forward to using his business management degree, information technology skills and other talents to contribute to our dynamic homeland.
“Since I began sharing what I’ve learned from Nefesh B’Nefesh, my friends and family have all been positive about it. It’s actually started some of them thinking about Aliyah as well.”Could encouraging his connections to consider Israel create more competition for the prize he’s after? “It’s a risk I’ll take,” he replies with a laugh.
By Sara Miriam Gross
To check out these cool contests for yourself, head to: www.thisismyisrael.com
AliyahÂ Buzz:Â AncientÂ DreamsÂ andÂ ModernÂ MeansÂ
SaraÂ MiriamÂ Gross
HaveÂ youÂ everÂ enteredÂ aÂ contestÂ toÂ winÂ cash,Â aÂ cameraÂ orÂ maybeÂ justÂ dinnerÂ forÂ two?Â GetÂ readyÂ forÂ theÂ ultimateÂ prizeÂ upgradeÂ -Â theÂ chanceÂ toÂ winÂ aÂ full-timeÂ job.Â InÂ aÂ newÂ spinÂ onÂ theÂ entireÂ conceptÂ ofÂ onlineÂ contests,Â NefeshÂ B’NefeshÂ hasÂ launchedÂ theÂ BestÂ JobÂ ContestÂ andÂ theÂ WeddingÂ GiftÂ ChallengeÂ (www.thisismyisrael.com).Â TheseÂ twoÂ innovativeÂ socialÂ mediaÂ initiativesÂ areÂ stirringÂ upÂ aÂ stormÂ ofÂ buzzÂ aboutÂ Aliyah,Â asÂ contestantsÂ vieÂ forÂ theÂ votesÂ thatÂ canÂ winÂ themÂ one-yearÂ positionsÂ atÂ 10Â impressiveÂ IsraeliÂ companiesÂ orÂ aÂ $10,000Â weddingÂ giftÂ andÂ otherÂ prizes.Â Â Â
WhyÂ targetÂ engagedÂ couplesÂ andÂ professionals?Â “OverÂ theÂ pastÂ fewÂ yearsÂ we’veÂ noticedÂ aÂ growingÂ trendÂ ofÂ youngÂ couplesÂ andÂ professionalsÂ makingÂ Aliyah.Â They’reÂ takingÂ advantageÂ ofÂ theÂ healthyÂ jobÂ marketÂ andÂ greatÂ socialÂ opportunitiesÂ availableÂ inÂ Israel,”Â explainsÂ MarcÂ Rosenberg,Â DirectorÂ ofÂ Pre-AliyahÂ forÂ NefeshÂ B’Nefesh.Â “TheseÂ contestsÂ increaseÂ awarenessÂ ofÂ AliyahÂ byÂ encouragingÂ friendsÂ andÂ familyÂ toÂ shareÂ inÂ theÂ journey,Â andÂ activelyÂ followÂ andÂ supportÂ theÂ contestantsÂ asÂ theyÂ launchÂ careersÂ andÂ startÂ newÂ livesÂ inÂ Israel.”
DespiteÂ minimalÂ advertising,Â dozensÂ ofÂ enthusiasticÂ andÂ hopefulÂ futureÂ OlimÂ haveÂ alreadyÂ entered,Â andÂ closeÂ toÂ 15,000Â supportiveÂ friends,Â relativesÂ andÂ othersÂ haveÂ alreadyÂ castÂ theirÂ votesÂ forÂ theÂ weddingÂ contestÂ alone.Â EachÂ contestantÂ postsÂ hisÂ orÂ herÂ photo,Â backgroundÂ orÂ professionalÂ credentialsÂ andÂ aboveÂ all,Â theÂ storyÂ ofÂ theirÂ personalÂ connectionÂ toÂ theÂ landÂ ofÂ Israel.Â
WillÂ theÂ luckyÂ coupleÂ beÂ AimeeÂ andÂ ElanÂ orÂ maybeÂ SaliÂ andÂ Aaron?Â CheckÂ theÂ voteÂ tallyÂ onÂ theÂ weddingÂ cakeÂ nextÂ toÂ eachÂ couple’sÂ pageÂ andÂ youÂ tooÂ canÂ followÂ theÂ race.Â WeÂ recentlyÂ caughtÂ upÂ withÂ MelodyÂ Mostow,Â 22,Â oneÂ ofÂ theÂ leadingÂ contendersÂ forÂ theÂ grandÂ prize.Â MelodyÂ isÂ inÂ theÂ middleÂ ofÂ aÂ whirlwindÂ ofÂ activity;Â she’sÂ finishingÂ upÂ examsÂ toÂ graduateÂ college,Â planningÂ herÂ AugustÂ weddingÂ andÂ makingÂ AliyahÂ arrangements,Â allÂ atÂ theÂ sameÂ time.Â “IÂ don’tÂ evenÂ thinkÂ I’veÂ everÂ beenÂ inÂ aÂ contestÂ before,”Â sheÂ admitsÂ withÂ aÂ laugh.Â “ButÂ I’mÂ aÂ politicalÂ scienceÂ majorÂ soÂ IÂ loveÂ campaignsÂ andÂ mobilizingÂ people.Â WhenÂ IÂ sawÂ theÂ contestÂ onÂ FacebookÂ IÂ knew,Â thisÂ isÂ aÂ campaignÂ IÂ canÂ reallyÂ getÂ behind.Â TheÂ missionÂ isÂ toÂ raiseÂ awarenessÂ ofÂ AliyahÂ andÂ IÂ thinkÂ we’veÂ toldÂ ourÂ storyÂ toÂ everyoneÂ weÂ knowÂ who’sÂ breathing!”Â CanvassingÂ forÂ votesÂ fromÂ asÂ manyÂ friends,Â relativesÂ andÂ strangersÂ asÂ possible,Â hasÂ indeedÂ succeededÂ inÂ spreadingÂ theÂ wordÂ farÂ andÂ wide.Â “WhenÂ theyÂ calledÂ meÂ upÂ toÂ theÂ stageÂ forÂ theÂ seniorÂ graduationÂ ceremony,Â myÂ departmentÂ headÂ mentionedÂ theÂ contestÂ inÂ frontÂ ofÂ everyone.Â ItÂ wasÂ veryÂ funnyÂ sinceÂ IÂ hadn’tÂ evenÂ toldÂ himÂ aboutÂ it.”
Melody,Â whoÂ grewÂ upÂ inÂ Pittsburgh,Â Pennsylvania,Â andÂ herÂ fianceeÂ Avi,Â whoÂ hailsÂ fromÂ HighlandÂ Park,Â Illinois,Â firstÂ metÂ onÂ theirÂ gapÂ yearÂ inÂ Israel.Â NowÂ theyÂ areÂ gearingÂ upÂ toÂ makeÂ Aliyah,Â aÂ mereÂ 16Â daysÂ afterÂ theirÂ wedding.Â “We’reÂ reallyÂ livingÂ theÂ dream,”Â sheÂ exclaims.Â ButÂ evenÂ dreamsÂ requireÂ decidedlyÂ worldlyÂ gear.Â “IÂ thinkÂ weÂ alreadyÂ wonÂ theÂ IkeaÂ shoppingÂ spree,Â whichÂ willÂ beÂ incrediblyÂ helpful”Â sheÂ reports.Â “AlthoughÂ we’reÂ notÂ inÂ theÂ leadÂ forÂ theÂ mainÂ prizeÂ anymore.”Â
What’sÂ aheadÂ forÂ MelodyÂ andÂ Avi?Â AviÂ plansÂ toÂ putÂ hisÂ businessÂ degreeÂ inÂ realÂ estateÂ andÂ financingÂ toÂ goodÂ use,Â whileÂ Melody,Â whoÂ internedÂ inÂ theÂ KnessetÂ lastÂ summer,Â hopesÂ toÂ workÂ inÂ theÂ IsraeliÂ governmentÂ inÂ someÂ capacity.Â
HeadingÂ overÂ toÂ theÂ jobÂ contestants,Â weÂ spokeÂ withÂ BrandonÂ Cohen,Â aÂ 23-year-oldÂ EastÂ CoastÂ nativeÂ whoÂ isÂ employedÂ asÂ anÂ e-commerceÂ managerÂ atÂ Bed,Â BathÂ andÂ Beyond.Â BrandonÂ isÂ currentlyÂ inÂ secondÂ place,Â whichÂ givesÂ himÂ aÂ goodÂ shotÂ atÂ winningÂ oneÂ ofÂ theÂ jobsÂ beingÂ awarded.Â “ThereÂ areÂ aÂ fewÂ positionsÂ thatÂ seemÂ rightÂ forÂ me,”Â heÂ mentions.Â “EspeciallyÂ theÂ brandÂ managementÂ positionÂ atÂ SodaÂ StreamÂ sinceÂ that’sÂ aÂ jobÂ I’veÂ doneÂ before.”Â BrandonÂ hopesÂ toÂ makeÂ AliyahÂ withinÂ aÂ yearÂ andÂ notesÂ thatÂ “GettingÂ aÂ full-timeÂ jobÂ inÂ IsraelÂ wouldÂ definitelyÂ speedÂ upÂ theÂ process.”
Brandon’sÂ introductionÂ toÂ IsraelÂ beganÂ whenÂ hisÂ olderÂ brotherÂ IanÂ attendedÂ medicalÂ schoolÂ inÂ TelÂ Aviv.Â “WeÂ wereÂ inÂ constantÂ contactÂ thoseÂ years,Â andÂ heÂ toldÂ meÂ aboutÂ allÂ theÂ amazingÂ thingsÂ heÂ wasÂ seeingÂ andÂ doing.Â ThenÂ whenÂ IÂ cameÂ onÂ BirthrightÂ afterÂ myÂ freshmanÂ year,Â IÂ extendedÂ myÂ tripÂ andÂ IanÂ tookÂ meÂ aroundÂ toÂ theÂ placesÂ heÂ hadÂ toldÂ meÂ about.”Â Brandon’sÂ brotherÂ isÂ nowÂ inÂ theÂ statesÂ butÂ plansÂ toÂ makeÂ AliyahÂ inÂ theÂ future.Â BrandonÂ beganÂ toÂ considerÂ AliyahÂ inÂ FebruaryÂ andÂ soonÂ after,Â sawÂ anÂ adÂ forÂ theÂ NBNÂ AliyahÂ MegaÂ Events.Â HeÂ andÂ hisÂ parentsÂ attendedÂ theÂ eventÂ heldÂ inÂ NewÂ YorkÂ andÂ itÂ wasÂ aÂ realÂ eye-opener.Â “IÂ didn’tÂ knowÂ thereÂ wasÂ aÂ programÂ thatÂ helpsÂ youÂ everyÂ stepÂ ofÂ theÂ way.”Â SinceÂ thenÂ BrandonÂ openedÂ aÂ fileÂ withÂ NBN.Â HeÂ looksÂ forwardÂ toÂ usingÂ hisÂ businessÂ managementÂ degree,Â informationÂ technologyÂ skillsÂ andÂ otherÂ talentsÂ toÂ contributeÂ toÂ ourÂ dynamicÂ homeland.Â Â
“SinceÂ IÂ beganÂ sharingÂ whatÂ I’veÂ learnedÂ fromÂ NefeshÂ B’Nefesh,Â myÂ friendsÂ andÂ familyÂ haveÂ allÂ beenÂ positiveÂ aboutÂ it.Â It’sÂ actuallyÂ startedÂ someÂ ofÂ themÂ thinkingÂ aboutÂ AliyahÂ asÂ well.”CouldÂ encouragingÂ hisÂ connectionsÂ toÂ considerÂ IsraelÂ createÂ moreÂ competitionÂ forÂ theÂ prizeÂ he’sÂ after?Â “It’sÂ aÂ riskÂ I’llÂ take,”Â heÂ repliesÂ withÂ aÂ laugh.
ToÂ checkÂ outÂ theseÂ coolÂ contestsÂ forÂ yourself,Â headÂ to:www.thisismyisrael.com