Jerusalem, Israel - June 3, 2024  - The Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group in collaboration with Nefesh B’Nefesh, hosted its second annual conference on financial literacy in Jerusalem, Israel, sponsored by Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot. Over 500 attendees engaged with numerous financial experts during the conference held at the Nefesh B’Nefesh campus in Jerusalem's Cinema City complex. Five days before, the conference was sold out and registration was closed, so participants were assured a seat at the popular event. During every session the rooms were full to comfortable capacity. 

Rifka Lebowitz, founder of the Living Financially Smarter in Israel Facebook group with close to 40,000 members, and a certified financial planner, shared advice on optimizing your finances in Israel. Other experts at the conference included: Marc Reiss, Head of Foreign Resident and New Immigrant Activities at Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, Miriam Shatsky, Advocate Wills & Estates Attorney, Yaacov Jacob, certified public accountant at Philip Stein and Associates, Danny Newman, senior agent, and branch manager at Goldfus Insurance, Yedidya Speter, Beverly Chimes, Gadi Last, Binyamin Radomsky, Yaacov Jacob, Mirit Hoffman, and Dr. Leah Gniwesch. 

The conference offered a variety of sessions, teaching attendees valuable financial planning strategies, and tips on navigating Israel's financial landscape effectively. Many points of contrast and complications with US tax law were mentioned. Additionally, this year's conference featured specialized sessions addressing financial concerns amid the Iron Swords War, with lecturers offering advice on stabilizing finances during times of economic uncertainty. 

Lone Soldiers currently serving in active duty and reserves were offered discounted tickets and participants were able to attend both day and evening tracks tailored to different attendee demographics and schedules.

"Everyone in Israel is affected by the war, there are those grappling with disrupted incomes, displaced homes, and profound loss, or just worried about the situation and how it will affect them,” commented Lebowitz. “This conference provides strategies for preserving assets and preparing for recovery during turbulent times. By planning ahead, we defy those seeking to break our spirit, showcasing our resilience.”

In his well illustrated opening morning session, Reiss offered positive insights to begin his presentation to the English speaking olim. He got the audience to laugh, mentioning that when Woody Allen was asked if he could say anything positive, Allen responded "he could give two negatives." 

In finding the right bank, three things are crucial, capital, technology and people. Having someone in an Israeli bank who knows you to match your needs is important. Even with the current situation in Israel, "you chose to be here, and strengthen the country by being here, so you should be proud," Reiss emphasized. Israel is smaller than Wales, the size of New Jersey, yet is number 13 in the list of global countries GDP, even with such a small percentage of world population

“Over the years, we have seen that our Olim engage in extensive financial planning and preparation for their Aliyah, arguably one of the most significant and life-changing decisions a person will make. Establishing a home and a life in Israel presents its own set of difficulties, especially during challenging and unstable times,” stated Sarah Kantor, Head of Events & Marketing at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Today's sessions empowered hundreds of Olim with essential information and connections to make informed decisions for themselves and their families in their new home in Israel.”

After an evening session, a former lone solider mentioned to BJL that the army does give a session on finances after soldiers finish their service. However, "at the end there is one slide stating most of this does not apply to those from the US."

Reiss had concluded his presentation saying that Israel has the "power of community" and is destined to grow - "It's all about the people." 

Walking away from the evening sessions aimed for young adults, seeing the attendees taking notes and asking serious questions, one could not help but leave feeling positive and encouraged about the future.