Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), an organization that aids and facilitates the immigration of Jews to Israel, announced Tuesday that it has signed an agreement with Israel's national airline carrier El Al to reserve blocks of seats on 14 flights for future immigrants to Israel during the summer, according to a press release from the group.
Working in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, the former serving as the central government body for arranging the immigration of Diaspora Jews to Israel, NBN said that the 14 flights bring North American olim (immigrants) will take place over the next three months. These flights will be operating out of JFK International Airport in New York City.
NBN's announcement come amid a growing degree of interest and inquiry for immigration among North American Jews, with the organization reporting that it has received the highest number of calls and applications this past May since the organization was founded in 2002. By mid-June, NBN reported that it has received over 900 applications for aliyah (the Hebrew term for immigration), compared to 399 at the same time last year.
“We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our olim as we navigate Aliyah together during this unprecedented time,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
“It is incredible to witness and take part in this moment, where there is an unparalleled increase in Aliyah interest. With hundreds of seats now available for olim, we look forward to taking a large step forward to ensuring that we can assist in the fruition of these Aliyah dreams,” he added.
The growth of interest in immigration to Israel comes amid the coronavirus pandemic that has severely impacted Jewish communities in the United States, which, combined with Israel's universal health care system, has been speculated as motivating factors for American Jews.