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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozlimski [file])
Just two days before the 15th anniversary of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, 150 Latin American immigrants who traveled to Israel on a direct flight out of Brazil were welcomed to their new home in a ceremony on Thursday at the Western Wall.
Applauded for realizing their dreams of moving to Israel and greeted by a crowd of guests, the immigrants arrived on Wednesday and spent the day on Thursday going through the absorption process. After the ceremony, each immigrant was given their identification card and assisted to their various destinations around the country.
Ruben Levy, formerly from Argentina now but headed to Eilat after he completes ulpan in Jerusalem, noted that the flight was very smooth and he felt very good to be in Israel.
"I can't believe I'm here," he said. "It's been one day that I cannot explain. I am so emotional."
Arthur Kuperman and his wife Ilana were just married in Brazil, but decided that they needed to start their lives together in Israel, where they "can live free as Jews," Arthur said.
He explained that they left good friends, family and work but they were very proud, gratified and happy to have made aliya. They both plan on studying Hebrew at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem, then pursue educational degrees in Israel.
Flavia Fichmann, a 23-year-old native Brazilian, said she had been thinking about aliya for four years. She said the transition so far had been great, but almost like she'd been on vacation, because she felt a sense of community since many of the other immigrants also traveled without family.
Among the immigrants was former rabbi chief of Uruguay Moti Maaravi, who spoke about the relevance of transforming life from Latin America to Israel. He blessed the immigrants, wishing them luck, with a psalm and prayer for unity and carrying the Jewish dream of coming and living to Israel.
A majority of the immigrants are young adults and families, averaging between the ages of 25-30, according to the Jewish Agency. This was the first agency-chartered flight from Latin America since 2000 and the immigrants came from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Peru.