Older Americans increasingly choosing Israel for retirement


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Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2021.
Miriam Alster/FLASH90Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2021.

Jewish state welcomes record number of US and Canadian immigrants 55 and older in 2021

Marilyn Berkowitz, 84, has a message for her fellow retirees thinking of heading south to sunny destinations: consider Israel.

“A lot of our contemporaries have gone to Florida,” the recent immigrant said. “But I think they should become sandbirds, not snowbirds.”

Berkowitz and her husband, Joel Tenenbaum, 81, were profiled recently in JTA for a story on the record number of older Americans and Canadians choosing to retire on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

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According to data compiled by Nefesh B’Nefesh, a non-profit organization that facilitates North American immigration to Israel, 762 immigrants to Israel from North America last year were age 55 plus, representing 17 percent out of the 4,478 total immigrants from across the Atlantic.

The record number of older olim (immigrants to Israel) in 2021 represents a 23 percent increase over the previous year's total of 580 immigrants 55 and over.

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“Israel is becoming a more attractive place, specifically for people at the age of retirement,” Marc Rosenberg, vice president of Diaspora partnerships at Nefesh B’Nefesh, told JTA.

“With increasing technology, cellphones and internet use, Israel is much more international now, especially with apps that allow people to get around, navigate and do their banking online.”

Nefesh B'Nefesh brought over 70,000 olim to Israel since 2002, of whom more than 90 percent have remained in the Jewish state.

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