232 N. American olim due at Ben Gurion

Flight is first of three Nefesh B'Nefesh planes to arrive this summer.

birthright 311 (photo credit: Neta Shor)
birthright 311
(photo credit: Neta Shor)
NEW YORK – An El Al plane full of new Israelis from across North America – 232 of them – will arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport early on Wednesday morning, on a flight sponsored by the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliya organization.
The immigrants, who range in age from 5 months to 95 years, are made up of 40 families and 60 singles, and are bringing four dogs with them to the Holy Land.
The flight from New York includes 26 young people close to military enlistment age who have expressed a desire to serve in the IDF.
The flight is the first of three planeloads of immigrants that the organization will bring to Israel this summer.
Since its founding in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, a collaborative venture with the Jewish Agency, has brought thousands of North American and British olim to Israel.
There will also be eight Nefesh B’Nefesh group flights this summer, where the organization buys a block of 50 to 80 seats on an El Al flight to accommodate the immigrants.
The organization is expecting about 5,000 North American and British Jews to make aliya over the course of 2010, an increase of nearly 20 percent from last year’s 4,200.
Nefesh B’Nefesh says 98% of those who came to Israel with the program over the past eight years have remained in Israel. The organization views the success rate as largely due to the pre- and post-aliya assistance it provides new arrivals in dealing with the bureaucratic, logistic and language difficulties that come with setting up lives in Israel. The group also provides financial assistance to help in the absorption process.
During Tuesday’s flight, Interior Ministry employees will help the olim apply for Israeli ID cards, and they will receive their immigrant IDs, or “tuedat oleh.”
The immigrants will be met at the Airport by a gala reception that will be attended by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founders Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.
The welcoming ceremony will be webcast on the Nefesh B’Nefesh Internet site (www.nbn.org.il).