Feeling the Aliyah

This past Monday, July 6th, Israel welcomed Nefesh B'Nefesh's first Aliyah flight of 2009 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.

Rachel Abrams,

This past Monday, July 6th, Nefesh B'Nefesh welcomed the first Aliyah flight of 2009 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.  Some 232 Jews, including families and singles, were greeted by flags, families and inspirational speakers, including Natan Sharansky, newly-appointed chairman of the Jewish Agency.  Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher caught up with a few families and individuals who wanted to share their stories. 

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Sharansky and Rabbi Joshua Fass

Natan Sharansky, who sat in Soviet prison for nine years because of his desire to live in Israel, welcomed those making Aliyah as the chairman of the Jewish Agency for the first time on Monday. In his poignant speech, Sharansky explained why each greeting at Ben Gurion airport is emotional:

"I am coming because I want again and again [to] enjoy that moment that I once enjoyed when I made my Aliyah.  And I felt that all the people of Israel, all of you were with me at that moment.  I want to feel it again… All of us are so excited and so happy you came.  Each of you is finishing this 2,000-year-old journey and is now coming home."  Sharansky is originally from the Ukraine, and his appreciation for the choice of each Jew to make the journey to Israel is apparent. 

  "Everything you're doing," Sharansky said to the crowd, "is helping built a future for the Jewish people."

Aurbach Family

When David and Alan Aurbach made Aliyah over a decade ago, their parents wondered where they'd gone wrong.  Now, twenty years after David made the move, his parents, Janice and Robert Aurbach, stand on the Ben Gurion tarmac.  "They finally decided that the right place for them was here in Israel with their children and their grandchildren," says David. 

Deciding that Florida was too far away from their grandkids, Janice and Robert will soon move into the burgeoning community of Yad Binyamin.  "Once upon a time, I said I would never move to Israel," says Janice when asked if Aliyah had ever been her dream.  The couple has lived in Florida the last 28 years and arrived permanently in Israel this past Monday, July 6th.  "[Moving] wasn't my dream," adds Robert, "but it is now."  

Laura, Yehudit, and Hindi

Laura Ben David wrote the book on Aliyah.  Literally. 

The author of "Moving Up – An Aliyah Journal" is a pre-Aliyah counselor for Nefesh B'Nefesh, the organization that this past Monday brought her own two sisters and their families to Israel.  On July 6th, Laura greeted Yehudis and Hindi, their husbands and children at Ben Gurion Airport as permanent residents.  "This is a dream come true," said Yehudis.  "We've been waiting a long time.  We're finally here." 

The two sister-immigrants sat next to each other on a flight solely for those making Aliyah.  "It was a really cool experience," said Hindi.  "We all have the same focus and idea and we share that same common thought and it united us.  It's amazing."  All three sisters are hopeful that more of the family will follow, including the two siblings and parents left behind in the states. 

"It's bittersweet for [our parents], as two of their kids have taken the grandchildren far far away. But they love Israel," says Yehudis.  "They're proud of us."     

Sirena Rubinoff

Howard Taylor calls the surge in people making Aliyah "Supernatural Growth."  Originally from Teaneck, New Jersey, Taylor came to Israel after he was first married and has now returned with his wife and children to settle permanently in Maaleh Adumim, just outside Jerusalem.  "There are four families that are very close to us in Teaneck that are planning the August 18th Aliyah flight," says Taylor.  "This is the time." 

For Sirena Rubinoff, the move might be even more dramatic.  A bubbly San Diego native, Sirena had a Rotary scholarship to study Swahili in Zanzibar.  After "finding her way" to Israel, however, she will be spending her first of many Shabbatot (Sabbaths) in Jerusalem.  The only person in her family to take the permanent plunge, Sirena is not sure that statistic will change anytime soon but is happy to report that her brother, a college freshman, is now considering a year of study abroad at Hebrew University.