"Welcome Home, Sabba" was among the most vivid signs held at the arrival ceremony for the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight on Thursday, as the Fishman family eagerly looked for their 70-year-old grandfather amid the crowd of new olim who disembarked from the plane.
Dr. William Veres, a teacher at Wayne State University and father of Sharon Fishman, promised himself after spending a year's sabbatical teaching at Hebrew University in 1977 that he would one day move to Israel.
"This has been something I have wanted to do my whole life, a real dream come true," said Veres at the arrival ceremony.
That promise was fulfilled on Thursday when he made aliya on the Nefesh B'Nefesh/Jewish Agency flight. Veres was welcomed to Israel with open arms by two of his children and four of his grandchildren.
His late wife's request to be buried in Israel was what finally caused him to realize his dream.
"My wife chose to be buried in Beit Shemesh rather than in Detroit, where we lived for 30 years," said Veres, explaining that "it was then that I realized that I would live here and be with her in life rather than in death."
"It was once my mother was here," Sharon said, "that my father decided to carry out his life-long dream that she was not able to help fulfill."
Veres leaves another daughter's family in America to join his son, who made aliya to Jerusalem in 2003, and his daughter, who made aliya to Modi'in in 2005. Veres will be living in Beit Tovei Ha'ir, an assisted-living facility in Jerusalem, the city to which he first planned to move in 1977.
"The reason why my father chose Jerusalem [as opposed to Modi'in, with his grandchildren]," said Fishman, "was because he felt that socially and academically it would be the place where he would find the best camaraderie."
She added, laughing, "And of course, the holiness of Jerusalem was appealing as well."