Ex-ambassador's brother makes aliya

Daniel Kurtzer's brother Benjamin and his family arrived Thursday.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Benjamin Kurtzer, the brother of former American ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, made aliya on Thursday along with his family. Benjamin and his wife, Melissa, arrived from Dallas along with four of their five children. They plan to rent a home in Ma'aleh Adumim for a year and will "be taking it from there," Benjamin said. The Kurtzer family arrived together with fellow immigrants on a flight organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh. They chose Ma'aleh Adumim because Melissa's sister and her family have lived there for the last eight years and because "we thought the people were nice, the community, great place to bring our children," Benjamin said. The fact that Ma'aleh Adumim is over the Green Line is not a problem for Benjamin and his family. "For us, there are no green lines or red lines, it's all part of Israel," he said. The policies his brother represented as ambassador played no role in their choice of where to live. "[Daniel] was coming from the diplomatic viewpoint and we were coming from the Zionist viewpoint," Benjamin said. The family is among a small minority - about 2 percent - of olim arriving on Nefesh B'Nefesh flights who choose to live over the Green Line. Nefesh B'Nefesh's policy is not to tell "anyone where to live. We only help them fulfill their wishes, and we do so within any community that the State of Israel permits them to live in," said spokesman Charley Levine. He said the decision by the overwhelming majority of these immigrants to live inside the Green Line was "not a question of politics at all. Its a question of which communities have 'buzz' associated with them as warm, nurturing communities for newcomers." Two-thirds of Nefesh B'Nefesh olim move to the same five cities: Modi'in, Netanya, Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem and Ra'anana. The 234 new olim who arrived Thursday morning on the first of 10 aliya flights scheduled for this summer were greeted in a ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport. A group of future aliya emissaries was present to greet them. "It's part of the training. We hope to bring as many olim as possible," said Zohar Ben Ari, who the Jewish Agency is sending to work for Young Judea in Boston. "Our job is to do this, eventually. We want to see the end of the process." The emissaries were not the only ones attending the welcoming ceremony. A woman named Christine, from Germany, said she came to Ben-Gurion to watch the arrivals because of their biblical significance. "A prophet once said that we would watch the Jews come back to Israel, and this is a fulfillment of that prophecy," she said. Rabbi Joshua Fass, cofounder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, offered words of encouragement to the new Israelis. "You new olim are the ray of hope and optimism for this country during these troubling times. You are sunlight and sunshine to this country," he said. Hagai Merom, treasurer of the Jewish Agency, expressed his hopes for the future. "If 234 people did it today, we can do it with millions a few years from now," he said. President Moshe Katsav highlighted an important difference between their old and new homes. "Are you tired?" he asked. "It's midnight in the US. Good morning, Israel. We are so glad to receive you among us this morning."