It has been said, that the United States is a melting pot, and Israel is a salad. This simplistic metaphor is surprisingly telling of Israel’s colorful, multicultural society; there is no typical Israeli, but rather a collection of ethnicities, cultures and nationalities, thrown together with a little olive oil and spice. It was this diversity that inspired Kevin Nafte, Australian Oleh, to create Telalivit, a multifaceted site catering towards the needs of the ever-growing immigrant population in Tel Aviv. Nafte moved to Israel in 2007, a year after completing volunteer work on a Kibbutz and serving in the IDF. His work with Tel Aviv Olim (new immigrants) began shortly after his arrival through his work with Shchuna, a virtual center on Facebook that provided a social network for new English speaking Olim, funded by Merkaz HaMagshimim Hadassah. Unfortunately, Shchuna was disbanded last year when Hadassah was forced to make budget cuts. Although Shchuna ceased to exist, the need for such a service did not. Thus Telalivit was born.
Telalivit’s mission goes beyond the scope of its facebook networking predecessor. Nafte realized the limitations of using a facebook group, and along with Maytal Kuperard, fellow IDC student, created the Telalivit site. Telalivit is a mini-facebook unto itself, with profiles, chat, events and other features similar to facebook. In addition, there is a classified section, links to other helpful sites for Olim and an assortment of blogs and useful information on Tel Aviv living. There is also a special service that guides new immigrants through the process of Aliyah, with a pre-Aliyah/ post Aliyah step by step guide all the way through the first week of acclimation into the hubbub of Tel Aviv. Telalivit has collaborated with the Jewish Agency to centralize vital information on the Aliyah process and its aftermath for prospective and new Olim.
Telalivit is currently working with Gvahim, an organization that helps graduates from foreign universities integrate into their fields in the Israeli marketplace. Through a joint Gvahim/Telalivit initiative, new Olim seeking work are put in touch with immigrants who are already employed in the Israeli workforce in their fields, providing mentorship and much needed vitamin P (Protexia i.e. connections). The Telalivit team is also hoping to work with StandWithUs, the Israel advocacy organization, to establish a media center to combat anti-Israeli propaganda, similar to the center housed by the IDC during the recent Operation Cast Lead. This will facilitate a new venue through which Olim can assist their country in an important, creative way.
Although Telalivit was not created with a specific audience in mind, as of now, English speaking immigrants are its main clientele. The site is entirely in English, though Nafte is working with the French organization ‘Ami’ that serves French Olim, with the goal of translating the site into French in the near future. Telalivit’s longterm ambition is to translate the site into multiple languages, including Hebrew, making it accessible not only to immigrants, but Israelis and tourists as well. As Telalivit expands, Nafte hopes it will become an increasingly useful and popular tool for all who traverse the streets of Tel Aviv, creating a common denominator for the otherwise eclectic populace of the city.