Final Summer Aliyah Flight Brings 210 Americans Home To Israel

Prime Minister Olmert, Absorption Minister Edri and former Chief Rabbi Lau were among those greeting 210 immigrants from North America on Tuesday.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

Nefesh B'Nefesh flight arrival (file)
Nefesh B'Nefesh flight arrival (file)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was on hand Tuesday morning to welcome to Israel 210 new immigrants from the US and Canada. Their arrival marks the end of a record summer for immigration from North America and Britain.

The El Al "Carmel" plane has arrived!
PM Olmert gives out the first 'Teudat Oleh' - New Immigrant Certificate

The group of North American olim (immigrants to Israel) arrived by plane at Terminal One of the Ben-Gurion International Airport. Their flight was organized and chartered by
Their arrival marks the end of a record summer for immigration from North America and Britain.
Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN), an organization dedicated to promoting Aliyah (Israeli immigration) among Western Jews. Tuesday's flight was the 15th of its kind since this March. Over the past six years, NBN has assisted some 12,000 people to immigrate to the Jewish State.

"I am an Israeli"

In addition to the Prime Minister, the NBN flight was met by public figures such as Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and current Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Knesset Member Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima), the mayor of the city of Modi'in, the Chairman of El-Al Airlines and others. Hundreds of family, friends, well-wishers, Aliyah activists and veterans of previous NBN flights greeted the newcomers, as well.

In his speech addressing the new olim, Rabbi Lau said, "You made it. And for the first time you can look in the mirror and say, 'A year ago, on the night of Passover and the end of Yom Kippur, I said the same words, "Next year [in Jerusalem"], but this is the first time that I mean it, that I fulfilled it, that I made it real."

The rabbi, a Holocaust survivor, went on to contrast his arrival in Israel and that of Minister Edri, who was born in Morocco, with the immigration of the participants in the NBN flight: "We arrived here as clouds, pushed by the wind, strong winds of all kinds of exile.... You have arrived this morning as doves flying back to their nest, to their home...."

Earlier, Prime Minister Olmert made the same point in his speech. "Nothing forces you to come here other than your love for the State of Israel and your deep feeling that while there it may be great, but here, this is home - this is your home, this is our home," he said.

Acknowledging some of the unique difficulties of life in Israel, the Prime Minister advised: "Don't let any of the obstacles or difficulties, or aggravations that you have to face, influence your basic commitment, because, even though we find it sometimes hard to manifest it - because we are so engaged in dealing with our difficulties on a daily basis - we are so proud and so happy that you come to live with us... that you are prepared to share the dangers and the difficulties, but, equally, the fantastic exhilaration that one feels when he lives in his own country, on his own land, and building the future of his people in their own country, which always was ours and which forever will remain ours - the land of Israel."

From Left: Ambassador Danny Ayalon, Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri, PM Ehud Olmert, NBN co-founder Tony Gelbart, Cheif Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Lau, NBN co-founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass
Walter Bingham interviews an elderly new immigrant
This flight's youngest immigrant Menacham - 5 weeks old

Among the 210 new arrivals are two people at opposite ends of the age spectrum - one is age 93 and the other is just five weeks old. In another impressive achievement for NBN, the current flight includes 96 unmarried adults making the dramatic move to Israel on their own. Typical of these North American olim is 22-year-old Bethany Bier, who said that, after several visits to Israel, "I really fell in love with it."

As with many new immigrants, she said it will be hard being away from her parents and that can she make more money in the United States. However, she explained, "Life is not usually easy for most people, but I think that makes people more in touch with themselves." 

Grandson reunites with grandfather
Chava Bar Levi was wondering whether Arutz-7 would be there to greet her

A veteran English-speaking immigrant named Suzi, 28 years in Israel, was very excited to be greeting the latest arrivals. To those not yet here, she said, "Come home! There's room for everyone.... The more people that come, the richer the country becomes - richer not in money, richer in the people that are here, spiritually richer."

On Thursday, the new arrivals will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with those North American immigrants who arrived on previous NBN flights. The scheduled gathering, including food, drinks and games, is to take place on Gordon Beach in Tel Aviv.

"Welcome to Israel"

More than 3,000 newcomers from English-speaking countries are expected to have replanted their roots in Israel by the end of December. This year's number of olim from Western countries is the highest it has been in years.

"The children shall return to their borders" from Jeremiah 31:16


Pictures by Yishai Fleisher

More pictures from the event by Aliyah enthusiast Yechiel Jonathan Stein