Arutz Sheva spoke with the founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh on Thursday, as the organization marks its tenth anniversary bringing olim (new immigrants) from North America and the UK to Israel.
A Nefesh B’Nefesh flight carrying 229 olim from the United States and Canada arrived at the Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday morning.
Over 2,500 olim will be heading to Israel this summer. The newcomers who arrived on Thursday morning's flight ranged in age from six months to 86 years and headed to new homes all across Israel. According to Nefesh B'Nefesh 1,400 young professionals and singles will make aliyah over the course of the year.
“After ten years, it’s an amazing feeling,” Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder Tony Gelbart told Arutz Sheva. “It’s almost like the very first day, although it’s more exciting because it’s the tenth year. After 47 planes, it’s a great feeling.”
Nefesh B’Nefesh started in 2001, after co-founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass’ cousin was killed.
“I had this feeling that someone should do something for Israel,” Rabbi Fass said. “We explored together, Tony and I, the concept of aliyah and seeing whether or not the small numbers of individuals making aliyah was reflective of the real interests. After research we saw that there are actually many more individuals who wanted to move to Israel but there are certain obstacles.”
He added, “When we founded Nefesh B’Nefesh we decided to remove those obstacles and to increase the wave of North American olim, and also work on their klita (absorption into Israeli life) as well so that when they came they would thrive and stay here.”
As for the organization’s future plans, Rabbi Fass said there is “a macro and a micro.”
“The macro is that we want to continue doing the same thing but more: Increase aliyah, bring more individuals every year,” he said. “The micro is to start doing specialized projects.”