Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), the organization that helps facilitate aliya from North America and the UK, brought its 50,000th immigrant to Israel on Wednesday.
“I was packing and I got the call from Nefesh B’Nefesh telling me I’m the 50,000th oleh, and that I’m going to meet the president,” 22-year old Rebecca Glanzer told The Jerusalem Post en route from New York City to Tel Aviv.
President Reuven Rivlin presented her with her immigrant ID document during a welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport.
It was NBN’s 55th charter flight since its founding in 2002, and it carried 233 new olim.
Glanzer hails from Brooklyn, New York, and graduated recently from Columbia University with a degree in economics. She hopes to serve in the IDF as a military social worker out of a desire to make a positive impact by helping others.
“I have been looking forward to making aliya and serving as a lone soldier in the IDF for so many years, and it is so crazy to me that this dream I had in high school is finally being realized,” she said.
NBN’s latest immigrant traces her passion for Israel back to when she was 15.
“I went to Israel on a family holiday and had no expectations,” she recalls. “I was overwhelmed by feelings of longing for a home I didn’t know I had.”
Since then, she returned many times, and already feels the country is home.
At college, she became more involved in Jewish and pro-Israel activity via campus organizations such as Hillel.
“What drew me to Israel was the community and sense of belonging that you cannot find anywhere else in the world,” she explains. “Being the 50,000th person to make aliya with Nefesh B’Nefesh only affirms for me that I am part of something bigger, joining the thousands of people who took the opportunity to live a more meaningful and more Jewish life in Israel. I can’t believe it’s finally happening!”
Waiting to meet Glanzer at the airport among the large and joyous welcome party was NBN’s first oleh, Ezra Ben David, who made aliya with his family in 2002, at the age of six, from Florida to Gush Etzion. He is now a soldier in the Armored Corps, and wished all the new olim well.
“It’s extremely exciting just looking at the people and the way they smile as they come in,” he said as he observed the fresh olim pouring into the airport hangar where the welcoming ceremony was held. “You can just feel the excitement from everyone.”
Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, founder and executive director of NBN, celebrated the milestone by saying he hoped to double the number of olim in the future.
“Looking back on 2002, when Tony Gelbart and I founded this organization, we couldn’t have imagined bringing 50,000 Jews from North America to Israel to fulfill their dreams and the dreams of the Jewish people,” he said. “And we’re not stopping anytime soon. It’s an impressive number, but let’s celebrate our 100,000th.”