The first Nefesh B’Nefesh chartered El Al summer aliya flight of 2013 is to depart from JFK airport in New York on Monday.

The flight is to be carrying 231 North American immigrants, including a record number of 106 children as well as 54 singles.

The olim will be joined on the flight by former IDF captive Gilad Schalit, who is flying to show his support and appreciation for North American aliyah This summer, a total of 2,500 olim will be departing for Israel on Nefesh B’Nefesh aliya flights, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel. The second flight is scheduled for August 12.

Family and friends around the world will be able to watch a live feed online of the olim landing in Israel and the welcome ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Dignitaries expected at the arrival ceremony include Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Yair Shamir, Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, an American immigrant, and Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky.

“It is a weird day today at the NBN office,” director of the Pre-Aliya Department at Nefesh B’Nefesh Marc Rosenberg told The Jerusalem Post, “The staff is busy with small last-minute details and logistics for the flight’s arrival.”

“Yet, there is a tremendous excitement at the greater idea that 231 people are about to fulfill a dream of coming home together,” he added, “I for one am very inspired by each and every story.”

Passengers are to attend a departure ceremony in JFK airport in the presence of Consul for Public Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in NY Gil Lainer; CEO of JNF-USA, Russell Robinson; Regional Representative to the Northeast for The Jewish Agency for Israel, Raphael Cohen; deputy managing director of Sales and Marketing for El Al, Gal Gershon; members of the Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Board of Directors, Shamai Keinan and Lesley Sachs; and co-founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.


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