Four Jewish diamond industry workers from Belgium decided to make aliyah in spite of their employer's efforts to convince them to stay. When he realized that he was about to lose them, he decided to open an Israeli branch so that they would continue to work for him in Israel.
The four worked at an international company, a Belgian and South African partnership – working in Antwerp for over 30 years. The company deals with producing diamonds in South Africa and Botswana.
The foursome were considered dedicated employees who contributed a lot to the company. They decided to make aliyah together, and last weekend they arrived on special Jewish Agency flights with 200 other olim from France and Belgium.
One of these olim is Ilan Engel (32) who decided to follow his Israeli-born wife to Israel. She returned to Israel with their daughter a year ago, and they will be living in Bat Yam.
Two other employees decided to make aliyah to be with their children and grandchildren in Givat Shmuel and Raanana. The fourth, Julie Aharon (23), single, will be living in Tel Aviv. The company's owner tried to convince the four of them to stay with the company and even promised to give them a raise if they were to reconsider their aliyah decision.
When he understood that they were enthusiastic Zionists he surprised them with an announcement: "I'll open an Israeli branch for you."
"I'm very pleased with the owner's decision to bring the company with us;" Engel jokes. "In Belgium there were eight of us, and four of us made aliyah. We will continue to work for the company, only now it will be from the diamond exchange in Ramat Gan."
One of his friends who wished to remain anonymous noted: "Our children and grandchildren are here, so for us the opening of the Ramat Gan office was a lovely gift. This was a great opportunity for all of us to make aliyah and continue working in a field we love and know."
Jewish Agency Aliyah and Absorption Department Director General Eli Cohen said that this decision to make aliyah proves that Israel is an island of economic stability.
Jewish Agency and Absorption Ministry data showed a 16% rise in the number of olim in 2010. A total of 19,130 olim from around the world arrived in Israel in 2010, compared to 16,465 in 2009.
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