NBN aliya flight_311.
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Droves of new immigrants arrived in Israel Tuesday from all over the world, with 494 olim landing at Ben Gurion airport during the course of the day and another 220 expected tomorrow.
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The new immigrants are arriving from North America, Brazil, France, Belgium, Italy, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
On Tuesday, 245 North Americans were brought to Israel by Nefesh b Nefesh on a chartered flight dedicated for the new immigrants, in partnership with the Jewish Agency. The new arrivals ranged in age from a two-month old baby to an 81-year old man who made aliyah with his wife.
On the flight were 45 families with 103 children, 51 singles, 15 people going in to the army, six dogs and a cat, and they came from states as diverse as Arizona, Colorado and New York as well as from Canada.
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver was at Ben Gurion International Airport to greet the newly minted Israeli citizens, along with the chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and Nefesh b Nefesh co-founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.
“Living in Israel is just more meaningful,” said 24-year old Mika Hakner from New Zealand. “Any big life change is scary but something’s missing for me in New Zealand, there’s not the same spirit that there is in Israel.”
Mika, who has a political science degree and will be attending Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem, said she didn’t think she would miss New Zealand all that much. “Separating from my parents will be hard,” Mika acknowledged, “but I want to live in the country where I most belong.”
Ruth Hubert, a 29-year old lawyer from France who also made aliyah on
Tuesday, said she would miss Paris where she grew up, as well as her
friends and family, but was taught by her parents since she was a child
that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and has taken the
message to heart with her aliyah.
“I know that life will be difficult, I’ll need to learn Hebrew, find a
job and integrate into Israeli society. But Israel is the safest place
for the Jewish people and I can ensure my children will have a Jewish
Among the arrivals from America were Hillel and Roch (Rachel) Davis from
New York. Hillel, 58, said that there are always reasons not to make
aliyah. “Life gets in the way, whether its kids or jobs, but it’s easy
living outside of Israel to fall into a ravine and get comfortable, and
you don’t appreciate God’s gift to us.”
“Leaving behind three children and a grandchild in New York will be
tough. They’re having trouble adjusting to the situation and it’s hard
for us too,” he admits. “Ultimately, though, the destiny of the Jewish
people is in Israel.”