Nefesh B’Nefesh Founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart, Sofa Landver and Danny Atar welcome an Aliyah charter flight of North American Olim to Israel.
(photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)
An El Al plane chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh carrying 218 new immigrants to Israel arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday morning from New York. Entering the Terminal 1 arrivals hall, some olim waved Israeli flags while others blew a shofar.
“We are celebrating today the aliya of hundreds of new olim who will begin their lives in the Jewish State, many of whom are modern-day pioneers moving to Israel’s North and South,” Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass told the immigrants, many with tears in their eyes, who were welcomed by family members, friends and an IDF delegation. “The thousands of Jews that will be returning to their homeland from the Diaspora over the course of this year are an inspiration to us all.”
Noah Lawrence, 29, originally from Massachusetts, said Israel had always had a hold on him.
“I always wanted to live in a Jewish national culture, and I just discovered it over the years,” he said. “One of the early stops on that journey was when I was an intern for The Jerusalem Post… and Baruch Hashem, God brought me back.”
When asked why he decided to move to Israel, Lawrence replied, saying “it’s like asking how you fell in love with someone. It’s hard to even say.”
“I literally haven’t stopped crying since we parked the car,” said Anne Glombeck, who came to Ben-Gurion Airport to greet her cousins arriving on the flight. “We give them so much credit for doing this,” she said. “We are beyond proud of them and we really want to follow in their footsteps.”
Glombeck recalled standing on Mount Herzl with her family a few years ago on Memorial Day. Her son had joined the IDF, and she hailed him for pushing her family to making aliya in the near future.
“Our youngest son is in the Israeli army, so that was our first step,” she said. “Now, B’ezrat Hashem, we’ll all be here coming home.”
This summer, Nefesh B’Nefesh plans to bring 2,000 olim, and Sunday’s flight is the first of two charters set to reach that goal, in addition to nine group aliya flights and other individuals who arrive independently. The new immigrants hail from 17 US states and two Canadian provinces, including former service members from three different US Armed Forces units.
“The immigrants arriving from the US and Canada are coming not out of distress but rather out of excitement to take part in the largest national project of the Jewish people,” said Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky. “We must ensure that the State of Israel remains a place in which every Jew feels at home, a place that ignites Jews’ imagination and strengthens their identity and security.”
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