In spite of the coronavirus pandemic, 24 new immigrants from the US landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday to start their new lives in the Jewish state.
And due to the viral scourge, the olim began their journey as Israeli citizens like no others ever have before: in 14-day quarantine.
For the last two weeks, all foreign citizens entering the country have had to go into isolation for two weeks. But on Wednesday, the government banned entry to Israel for all foreign citizens altogether, unless they hold Israeli residency visas.
The new immigrants who arrived on Thursday were brought on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group aliyah flight in cooperation with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and Jewish National Fund-USA. They were allowed to come on their scheduled aliyah flight, provided they enter quarantine.
On the flight were singles and 10 families, with ages ranging from nine months to a 73, including two sisters who decided to make aliyah together.
The new immigrants came from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Nefesh B’Nefesh is expecting another 20 olim to arrive in the next two weeks.
“It is truly remarkable to see that aliyah is continuing amidst increasingly complex global circumstances,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
“These new olim, more than ever, represent the strong future of the State of Israel, as they are determined to fulfill their dreams of helping to build the Jewish nation. We are ready to assist them throughout their entire aliyah process in order for them to settle into their new homes as smoothly and comfortably as possible during these challenging times.”
Nefesh B’Nefesh has set up a dedicated hotline for the new arrivals in order to maintain as close contact as possible with them and lend any support needed.
The new immigrants were sent directly into quarantine for 14 days in cities across Israel, including Jerusalem, Beersheba, Holon, Modi’in, Netanya, Ra’anana, Safed and Yad Binyamin.
Among the olim who landed this morning were Aviva and Tzvi Karoly with their two young children, who will be living in Modi’in and whose new neighbors have already provided them with crucial supplies for the quarantine period, which were waiting for them outside their door when they arrived.
“When we first learned that we would likely be put in mandatory quarantine upon arrival, I was a bit freaked out,” wrote Aviva in a goodbye letter to her community of Washington Heights in Manhattan. “However, within minutes of my posting on a Facebook page for the community, I was inundated with volunteers offering to bring us groceries, toys, books and anything else we might need. Complete strangers were literally lining up to help us.
“How amazing are the people of Modi’in, and we are so excited to be part of this community. There are literally piles of supplies stocked outside our door just waiting for us to come home.”