Baby steps for Israel’s birthday

Nefesh B’Nefesh holds a party for 45 little ones, all born to immigrants from English-speaking countries.

BABIES BORN in Israel 311 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
BABIES BORN in Israel 311
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
Getting a baby step ahead of the country’s 63rd birthday celebrations, dozens of Israel’s youngest pioneers and their olim parents gathered in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood last week to mark the tots’ first Independence Day.
The 45 little ones, all born in Israel to parents originally from English-speaking countries, were dressed head-to-toe in blue and white by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the event’s organizers.
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Some of the toddlers lay quietly on a large carpet spread out on the grass of the local park, while others were loud and restless – exhibiting what some call typical Israeli behavior.
“There is no greater satisfaction than to see Israeli babies born to olim whom we helped to make aliya,” said Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, the group that assists Jewish immigrants from English- speaking countries to immigrate to Israel.
“This year, Nefesh B’Nefesh expects to bring over 4,800 olim from North America, Canada and the UK, and we look forward to celebrating Independence Day next year with even more Sabra babies,” Halfon said.
Chanania David Rosner, aged four-and-a-half-months, was one of the frolicking toddlers at the get-together last Wednesday.
The youngest of seven children, he is the only one of his siblings born in Israel, a fact that fills his mother, Tamar Rosner, a pediatrician, with pride.
“He is our first Sabra,” said Rosner, who made aliya from Long Island, New York, with her family in 2008.
“We called him Chanania because we felt Hashem had mercy and went above and beyond for us, and David because he was the seventh child, just like [the biblical] David was,” said Rosner, 37.
They now live in Beit Shemesh.
Acclimatizing to Israeli society can be a challenge.
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But the Rosners had no problem cutting the umbilical cord to the old country.
“We still have family there and have many ties, but we are happy to be raising our kids here because we feel the future of the Jewish people is in Israel,” the family’s matriarch said.
“In general we’ve had a smooth aliya, although it was harder to come with older children, because they had to adjust to the language,” she said.
While the gathering at the park in Jerusalem was billed as a “mommies and babies” event, a Nefesh B’Nefesh spokeswoman said the assumption that no daddies would attend proved to be old fashioned.
Daniel Sass, a stay-athome father, was on hand with his youngest.
“I’m a videographer. I film simchas [festive occasions], so my wife works in the morning while I take care of the baby,” he said.
Sass, who made aliya in 2002, met his future wife in Israel. They have another child, aged three, who “already speaks better Hebrew than myself,” Sass said. They live in Efrat with their dog Gal.
Sass recalled how making aliya meant he had to be weaned off some of his favorite things, for example quality wine, which he said was scarce in the country at that time.
“Ten years ago it didn’t have good wine, and now it has award-winning wine,” the native Californian said. “The quality of life is also much better than it was.”
Rosner shared what she wished for her children on the occasion of the state’s 63rd birthday: “That we continue to thrive and be able to exist with more peace than we have now,” she said.
“My prayer for my children is that they continue to love Eretz Yisrael as much as we do,” she said.
“You feel so glad to be here, and you don’t see it as much with Sabras. I think olim take it less for granted, so I hope that that my children won’t either.”