Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh and Zev Gershinsky, Executive VP of Nefesh B'Nefesh, with new Olim at Ben Gurion Airport today.
(photo credit: BEN KELMER)
At least 3,633 North Americans immigrated to Israel this year, according to preliminary numbers released on Wednesday by Nefesh B’Nefesh, which facilitates aliya from the US, Canada and the UK.
The numbers from the US have been consistent over the past few years, with 3,676 in 2016, 3,782 in 2015 and similar numbers in recent years before that. This is a significant increase to numbers recorded several years prior to the establishment of Nefesh B’Nefesh in 2002. For instance, 1,400 came from North America in 2000, and 1,697 arrived the year before that.
The last of this year’s American olim arrived on Wednesday on a group flight made possible by Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the Aliya and Integration Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel and JNF-USA. Ninety-three immigrants were on the flight, including 15 future lone soldiers (without close relatives in the country who can help them), a soon-to-be bride and 37 individuals moving to the country’s North, South and Jerusalem.
Another 103 North Americans made aliya on Wednesday via Nefesh B’Nefesh’s guided aliya program, which allows citizens of the US, Canada and the UK currently residing in Israel the opportunity to make aliya through the Interior Ministry while receiving a full range of services.
During this past year, Nefesh B’Nefesh has facilitated 19 special aliya flights from North America, bringing 377 families with 677 children and an additional 1,677 singles. These olim ranged in age from five weeks to 102 years old, mostly from New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, as well as from Quebec and Ontario in Canada.
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana and Netanya were popular cities among the American olim this year. The recently launched Nefesh B’Nefesh and KKL-JNF “Go Beyond” initiative also facilitated the aliya of hundreds of olim to Israel’s northern and southern frontiers including Haifa, Safed, Zichron Ya’acov, Karmiel, Tiberias, Nahariya, Hadera, Yokne’am Illit, Pardess Hanna and Ma’alot in the North, and Beersheba, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ofakim, Mitzpe Ramon, Yeroham, Sderot, Arad and Meitar in the South.
“We have had the incredible privilege of assisting thousands of olim this past year in fulfilling their Zionist dreams and are pleased to see continued interest in aliya from Jews living in the Diaspora,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Today’s olim will begin building their homes in communities across the country and will be making valuable contributions to strengthening Israel and the Jewish nation.”
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