Israel’s 215 new immigrants, hailing from the United States and Canada, landed Wednesday morning at Ben-Gurion Airport on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight, disembarking amid much exhilaration as they took their first steps in their new home.
They arrived on the 64th Nefesh B’Nefesh chartered aliyah flight through El Al, joining the 75,000 olim the organization has brought here since its first charter flight in the summer of 2002.
The flight was in partnership with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), Jewish National Fund-USA, and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
Who are Israel’s newest citizens?
They represent a variety of ages and walks of life: 22 families with 75 children among them, 15 single men and women, and 17 retirees. The youngest aboard was four months old, and the two oldest – who incidentally sat next to each other – were 77.
Israel’s medical system is set to benefit from the integration of seven new doctors and 15 health professionals.
The Go Beyond initiative, a cooperative venture by Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund that helps develop Jerusalem and the periphery, will steer the course for 27 participating olim.
Deserving of special mention are 45 lone soldiers who will join the ranks of Israel’s bravest who will serve as part of the FIDF-Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program.
Why wait to touch down on land to receive immigration documents? During the flight, the new olim filled out relevant forms as part of a new initiative to limit bureaucracy and streamline the aliyah processing. Representatives of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, and the Population and Immigration Authority, then handed out immigration certificates while the new immigrants were still on board.
“It was my absolute joy to welcome these new olim upon their arrival in Israel,” Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer (Religious Zionist Party) said. “It is especially exciting to see families with children and young adults embrace the Zionist dream of making aliyah.
“Since becoming the minister, I have made it my personal goal to increase the number of olim from the US, with various programs expected to launch soon toward this objective. I wish the new olim much success, as well as a smooth and comfortable absorption in Israel. Welcome home.”
“Each and every oleh carries with them a unique story, yet what bonds them together is a unified love for our homeland, shared goals, and collective action,” said co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.
“It teaches us that diversity exists within unity - that shared values and commitment can bind different individuals and groups together. Watching each of these olim walk onto the tarmac and witness their elation as they take their initial steps in their new homes is both inspiring and moving. We are honored to continue to be a part of the next chapter in each of their aliyah journeys.”