On Tuesday, one of the most unique flights of new immigrants coming from North America is set to touch down in Israel. Dubbed “the Children's Flight,” the planeload of olim, organized by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization and the Jewish National Fund, will include a record number of 106 children – 50 boys and 56 girls – out of a total of 231 olim. Altogether, 41 families will be arriving.
Also arriving in Israel, but not for the first time, will be Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was held captive by Hamas for over five years. Speaking minutes before takeoff on Monday in New York, Gilad Shalit, who is participating in the flight, said that the trip was a very emotional one for him, and that he was very proud to accompany the olim. “The fact that thousands of people are willing to leave their homes and start a new life in Israel is not something to be taken as a matter of course. I wish each and every oleh an easy absorption into their new lives,” he said.
Overall, 989 children are expected to immigrate to Israel on Nefesh B'Nefesh flights in 2013, 20% more than the 822 who came to Israel in 2012.
“Gilad Shalit is well liked by the Jews of North America, and we are happy that he agreed to join the 'Children's Flight' in order to help promote aliyah,” said Erez Halfon, Nefesh B'Nefesh Deputy Chairman. "The children's flight fills us with great optimism,” he added. “These children are the future of the state of Israel and they cause us great excitement in making aliyah.”
Hundreds of VIPs and guests will receive the olim at Ben Gurion Airport's Terminal One. They will include Aliyah and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, as well as MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), who made aliyah on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight in 2004.
An Arutz Sheva staff member is accompanying the flight, and we will be providing live coverage of the landing.