Integration measures are limited to new Jewish immigrants and members of their family and are directed towards swift, profound and lasting integration. Common governmental parlance, therefore, adheres to the term "absorption". After decades of mass immigration from completely different countries and cultures, however, it is apparent that any "ascent" of the immigrants into the new Israeli society in terms of cultural integration as understood by the US American model of a melting pot can scarcely be regarded as a realistic concept. In practical parlance, therefore, "absorption" has meanwhile come to be understood to a large extent as synonymous with "integration".
New immigrants and their families are entitled to a large number of material integration services, and not for this reason alone can the integration of newly immigrated Jews be described as a continuing success story. The integration of immigrants from post-Soviet states since the early 1990s in particular has been effective from a structural perspective, due, among other things, to their high level of education (60 % have tertiary qualifications compared with 40 % of the resident population and almost 12 % are doctors or engineers) and their high labour force participation rate in their country of origin, although they were initially worse affected by unemployment. After ten years in Israel, however, employment rates have just about evened out. With regard to schooling, meanwhile, there is even talk of an "immigrant paradox". Despite starting from a weaker socio-economic position, young immigrants, on average, perform equally well in school or even better than children and young people born in the country. This, however, cannot disguise the fact that the integration of some immigrants from Russia has not succeeded. In addition to significantly higher levels of drug addiction and alcoholism, in recent times the detention of Russian-born members of radical right-wing and neo-Nazi groups has caused a considerable stir.
Important integration assistance for new immigrants
|Type of assistance||Form of assistance||Period for which assistance guaranteed||Period of eligibility to make a claim|
|Help with living expenses upon initial reception||"Absorption basket" in eight instalments||Six months||One year from date of aliyah|
|Assistance with acquiring household goods||Customs grant||Once, in two instalments||Four years from date of aliyah|
|Hebrew language course||Assumption of course costs (part of "absorption basket")||6 months, one-off payment||18 months from date of aliyah|
|Travel costs to participate in course||Up to 6 months||One year from date of aliyah|
|Assured basic income||Up to 6 months after expiry of "absorption basket"||One year from date of aliyah|
|Accommodation/ living expenses||Housing benefit/ rental assistance||5 years||-|
|Accommodation in public housing||Once||-|
|Mortgage loan||Once||Up to ten years from date of aliyah|
|Employment||Assured income or allowance for job seekers||Up to 12 months||One year from date of aliyah|
|Assistance for degree courses, training and retraining||Duration of courses||Ten years from date of aliyah|
|Student support||Tuition grant, loan||Up to three years of study||At the responsible authorities' discretion|
Source: MOIA (2007)
A special Israeli feature are the so-called absorption centres (merkazei klita) founded and administered by the Jewish Agency. These simple housing estates for new immigrants were built in the 1960s and offer a range of different support services. These include, for example, the offer of a Hebrew language and integration course (ulpan) right on-site, as well as a formalised network to provide advice on professional and psychological matters, schooling and more. Subsidised living in the absorption centres is, however, normally limited to six months. Whereas the Israeli state adopted a system of "direct absorption" with regard to mass immigration from the former Soviet Union, wherein the immigrants themselves had the financial means and freedoms to organise their primary integration, Ethiopian Jews were almost without exception housed institutionally after their arrival. At times up to 10,000 people were living in the absorption centres, some also for significantly longer than a year. Here they underwent a formalised and bureaucratic integration process. This was justified by the often low level of education and the "culture shock" of migrating from the rural, pre-modern society of Ethiopia to high-tech Israel which led to the conclusion that Ethiopian Jews were in need of special protection and assistance. Thus Ethiopian-born juveniles are given special support with their schooling and are entitled to university grants for a significantly longer period than other new immigrants.
The drawback of this special support with integration, however, is that the authorities treat the immigrants paternalistically.