Nefesh B’Nefesh is working miracles bringing Jews home under coronavirus

Nefesh B’Nefesh brings Jews back to Israel in the way God would; amid unbridled kindness, compassion, providing attention and dignity for every person in their care.

Yosef Boteach, arriving in Israel before heading to pre-military academy in the South. August 2020 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yosef Boteach, arriving in Israel before heading to pre-military academy in the South. August 2020
(photo credit: Courtesy)
To see Israel today is to witness prophecies come true: The Jews are back in the mix, on their land, and at the helm of their destiny, precisely the way God promised. But we must also recognize the armies of men and women bringing these prophecies to fruition.
God told Ezekiel, “The towns shall be resettled and the ruined sites rebuilt,” and Israel’s brave pioneers and immigrants made good on the promise. The Irgun, Hagana and the IDF were God honoring another pledge: “They shall no longer be a spoil for the nations, they shall dwell secure and untroubled.” (Ezekiel 34:28).
Today, Israel’s agricultural workers help the “land to yield its produce and the tree to yield its fruit” (Leviticus 26:4),” while those in the bustling hi-tech sector vindicate Moses’ prediction that Israel would be celebrated worldwide as “a wise and insightful people.” (Deuteronomy 4:6).
Equally awe-inspiring, though lesser known, are the prophecies are being confirmed by Jews in the Diaspora. Right here in North America, there’s a small but specialized force bringing another beautiful promise to life: that God will bring His scattered people home.
From the online application through the touchdown at Ben-Gurion Airport and beyond, Nefesh B’Nefesh, with the outstanding Ari Schuchman at its helm, guides returning Jews through bureaucracies on both sides of the ocean, helping them navigate healthcare, banking, and the hunt for jobs, homes, and friends.
“Even if your exiles are at the end of the heavens,” Moses assured us some 3,300 years ago, “the Lord your God will gather you from there, and from there He will take you.”
Over the past few months, I’ve seen these words rise like a tide up close, firsthand, and inside my own home.
About a year ago, my 19-year-old son Yosef informed his parents that he’d be moving to Israel and joining the IDF, God willing. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. When the pandemic hit, I was sure he’d have to make peace with a dream delayed. Travel was nearly impossible, how could we pull off an intercontinental move?
What I didn’t know was that the global pandemic had only sent Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency, under the inspired leadership of Isaac Herzog, into overdrive.
In June, the organization announced that it had received a record number of applications – 1,350 in a single month – and logged more than 25,000 calls from people still on the fence. The surge reflects Israel’s immigration estimates as well: In 2019, 35,000 Jews moved to Israel; over the next three to five years, Israel expects that figure to rise to an astounding 250,000.
With all of that going on, they still got Yosef in. Last week, he arrived in Israel, got an Israeli citizen ID, and went off to his pre-military academy in the deserts of the South. Thank God, he is the fourth of my children to become a citizen of the Jewish state.
ALL OF THIS was made possible through the ongoing assistance from volunteers and organizers at Nefesh B’Nefesh, the professionals at the Jewish Agency, And the amazing staff at the Israeli Embassy in Washington under Ambassador Ron Dermer, the ultimate Jewish dream machine.
Help aside, the love and care they show new immigrants embodies the prophets’ words to even a greater degree. With a power that could move a man to tears, Isaiah tells the Jews how lovingly their Lord would seek them out:
“Fear not, for I am with you. Fom the East, I will bring you back, from the West I shall gather you. I will say to the North, ‘Give back!’ And to the South, ‘Do not withhold! Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the Earth.’”
Nefesh B’Nefesh brings Jews back to Israel in the way God would; amid unbridled kindness, compassion, providing attention and dignity for every person in their care.
We’ve got a lot more prophecies to see through. God’s ultimate promise is a world without hunger, poverty or war – certainly without pandemics. We eagerly await that day of complete redemption. Until then, we continue to endure painful reminders that our exile hasn’t wholly ended – like the tragic death of a young man in Crown Heights this week or the murder of a Rabbi in Israel a week before (may their memory be a blessing).
As we face intensifying domestic strife, worrying geopolitical shifts and a terrible pandemic, hope becomes a hotter pot to hold.
But the same prophecies which kindled Jews with a hope strong enough to endure nearly 20 centuries of suffering can keep us looking forward still.
The great sage Rabbi Akiva famously comforted a group of rabbis who were crying as they watched foxes frolic on the Temple Mount. Far from a sad sight, he insisted, they were witnessing the fruition of the prophet’s words, “Zion shall be plowed as a field.” He then told them of another, which predicted Jerusalem being reborn: “Old men and women shall yet sit in her streets.”
With a smile, he made sense of his joy: The promise of destruction had come true, so the promise of rebirth had to happen, too. Even more blessed than even a prophecy is its fulfillment, because if one comes true, they all do.
Isaiah predicted precisely how his predictions would be proven true: “All the nations assemble as one, The peoples gather. Who among them declared this and foretold to us things that have happened? Let them produce their witnesses and be vindicated! That men, hearing them, may say, ‘It is true!’” (Isaiah 43:9).
The prophets spoke three millennia ago, but today we can all say, “It is true!”
Thanks to organizations like the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh, there’s barely a need for faith or imagination – the accuracy speaks for itself.