(photo credit: BEN KELMER)
Seventy-two new immigrants from North America, including 20 soon-to-be IDF lone soldiers, landed Wednesday on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliya flight. The lone soldiers will be drafted into the IDF as part of the Tzofim-Garin Tzabar program and will serve as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh lone soldiers program.
“When I chose to leave my privileged life in Brooklyn and to help my country, it seemed like it was perfect timing during Hanukka,” said 20-year-old Joy Cohen. “Someone tries and takes away our self-determination, so what do we do? We fight! We’re fighters...
My heritage has made me proud and stronger, it has taught me to never ever give up.”
There are currently some 2,700 lone soldiers who came to Israel with Nefesh B’Nefesh, which their website says was created with the “goal of providing assistance and support to new immigrants who are required to serve in the IDF.”
The program, in cooperation with Friends of the IDF, cares for the participants from before they immigrate to Israel, during their active military service and after they are discharged and need to adjust to civilian life in Israel.
In addition to the lone soldiers, the flight – which was in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNFUSA – also included 17 immigrants who are part of the Go North and Go South programs of Nefesh B’Nefesh, initiatives that aim to “invigorate Israel’s periphery communities with idealistic olim from North America.”
“During the holiday of Hanukka we commemorate the miracles and wonders experienced by the Jewish people thousands of years ago during the days of the Maccabees,” Nefesh B’Nefesh cofounder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass said.
“Today, as we welcome these 73 new olim to Israel, we celebrate our own modern day miracle, aliya.
“Tonight, as they go home to light the fifth candle of Hanukka, the flame of their candles won’t only be symbolizing the victory of light over darkness; it will be symbolizing the light of hope, faith and a promising future that they represent for all of us.”