On Wednesday morning, the future of Israel was shaped for generations to come when 127 children arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on a special aliyah (immigration to Israel - ed.) flight chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN).
Working with NBN to bring the new olim (immigrants to Israel - ed.) were Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL), and JNF-USA.
The flight included 232 olim, 127 of whom are under age 17.
This diverse group of newcomers to Israel ranged in age from 6 months to 80 years old and included 34 families, 18 singles, three sets of twins, six future IDF soldiers, and 15 medical professionals. Taking part in the joint NBN-KKL “Go Beyond” initiative, thirty-five percent of the flight (88 olim) will be moving to locations in the north and south of Israel, outside of the central and Jerusalem metropolitan areas.
The new olim hail from across the US, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, as well as from the Canadian province of Quebec.
Following the flight's arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, a festive welcoming ceremony took place. Notable guests at the ceremony included: Minister of Aliyah and Integration Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu); Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Chairman MK Dr. Avraham Neguise (Likud), MK Yehudah Glick (Likud); and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.
“Each day that brings new olim to Israel is a joyous occasion, especially when there are one hundred and thirty children on a single aliyah flight. This is the future unfolding before us,” Landver said.
“The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, together with Nefesh B'Nefesh, continues to encourage aliyah and assist olim from North America. These newcomers, together with the country’s veteran olim, are strengthening Israel’s resilience, economic development, and society as a whole. I am so pleased that many of today’s olim are joining our Negev-Galilee project which will help strengthen Israel’s periphery.”
KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar said, “As an organization that has existed for almost 120 years, we see great importance in bringing Diaspora Jews to Israel.”
“As Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel works to reduce the gaps between people living in the center and the periphery of Israel, we see the new olim moving north and south as a huge national asset. Even after 70 years of independence the work is still continuing on, and the building of the Jewish home has not yet ended.”
Rabbi Yehoshua Fass said, “We are inspired to see so many children making aliyah today with their families. As Israel recently celebrated its 70th birthday, the country is now looking ahead to its future - an era that will be shaped by the ingenuity and passion of courageous and pioneering olim who are starting their lives anew in the Jewish state.”
“The group of young olim arriving today will have the tremendous opportunity to grow and develop in Israel, and be part of the modern-day miracle of the Jewish people returning to the Jewish homeland.”
Neguise added, “Welcome home to all the olim from North America arriving today to the State of Israel. Their aliyah is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecies that the Jewish people will return to the land of Israel. I thank all those involved in making this dream turn into a reality.”
“It is an incredibly emotional experience to be able to welcome new olim to the State of Israel upon their arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport,” said opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union). “I wish the new olim a life full of happiness here, as well as a smooth and speedy transition into Israeli society. The Jewish Agency will always regard aliyah as one of its main functions, and as such would like to commend our joint partnership with Nefesh B'Nefesh in assisting the immigration of Jews to Israel."
The new Olim arrived on the first of two Nefesh B’Nefesh charter Aliyah flights of the year, which, along with 8 group Aliyah flights and Olim arriving independently on a daily basis, will bring over 2,000 people immigrating through Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer from North America. Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with its partners, has brought more than 57,000 Olim to Israel from the US, Canada, and the UK.