The silver lining: The global financial crisis hitting world markets seems to have one favorable effect as far as Israel is concerned, as thousands of Israelis who have been living abroad for the past few years head back to their homeland.
According to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, some 15,000 Israelis are expected to return to the Jewish state by the end of 2009.
The ministry launched a campaign encouraging Israelis living abroad to do just that in August of 2007, as part of the nation's 60th anniversary celebrations, offering a NIS 100 million (about $24 million) incentives package.
"The last few weeks have been crazy," Tali Naveh, who heads New York's Israel House, which tends to New York-based Israelis who wish to return, told Yedioth Ahronoth. "The phone has been ringing off the hook, and not just here, in all of out 10 centers on North America. People here have their American dream shattered."
Some 2,000 Israelis have returned home between August and mid October alone – a 50% rise from the same time last year.
According to Immigrant Absorption Ministry data, 64% of the returnees come from the US, 24% from Europe and 12% from other counties, such as the Bahamas, Japan, Honk Kong, Finland and the Caribbean's.
The ministry, along with the Israel Tax Authority, intends on launching a second homecoming campaign in November, aimed at convincing Israelis who may still be undecided to return to Israel. The Immigrant Absorption Ministry has even called on Israeli banks which have worldwide branches to market the campaign and assist those returning in transferring their assets to Israel expeditiously.
"Despite the unfortunate circumstances, we are happy to see so many Israelis come home," said Erez Halphon, director-general of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.
Eli Cohen, head of the Jewish Agency's Department of Aliyah and Absorption added that the JA has been negotiating with various Israeli employers, in an attempt to help those returning to secure new jobs.
Danny Adino Ababa and Ofer Petersburg contributed to this report