215 Olim from the US and Canada landed this morning at Ben Gurion Airport, disembarking in their new home of Israel. These Olim arrived on the 64th Nefesh B’Nefesh chartered Aliyah flight through El Al Israel Airlines, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), Jewish National Fund-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar, and will be joining the 75,000 Olim the organization has brought to Israel since its first charter Aliyah flight in the summer of 2002.
Last summer, a pilot initiative to further streamline the Aliyah processing was offered to a handful of Olim when representatives of Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration and the Population and Immigration Authority handed out Teudot Oleh (immigration certificates) while onboard. For the first time, this opportunity was extended to all the passengers on this year’s charter. While still on the flight, Olim filled out relevant forms and were handed their Teudot, finalizing their Aliyah processing.
The charter flight was comprised of 22 families with 75 children amongst them, 15 single men and women, 17 retirees. The youngest Oleh on the flight was 4 months old, and the oldest Oleh was 77 years old. Also onboard the flight were 7 doctors and 15 health professionals who will be integrating into the Israeli medical system. 27 Olim on the flight are part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh-KKL Go Beyond initiative, which is aimed at developing Israel’s peripheral regions and Jerusalem.
“It was my absolute joy to welcome these new Olim upon their arrival in Israel. It is especially exciting to see families with kids and young adults embrace the Zionist dream of making Aliyah,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Ofir Sofer. “Since becoming minister, I have made it my personal goal to increase the number of Olim from the US and have a various number of programs expected to launch soon with this objective in mind. Together with our dear partners, Nefesh B’Nefesh, I believe we can accomplish this goal. I wish the new Olim much success, as well as a smooth and comfortable absorption in Israel. Welcome home!”
“Each and every Oleh carries with them a unique story, yet what bonds them together is a unified love for our homeland, shared goals and collective action,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “It teaches us that diversity exists within unity - that shared values and commitment can bind different individuals and groups together. Watching each of these Olim walk onto the tarmac and witness their elation as they take their initial steps in their new homes is both inspiring and moving. We are honored to continue to be a part of the next chapter in each of their Aliyah journeys.”
"I congratulate the hundreds of young and old North American Olim, including the dozens of medical professionals who are joining Israeli society today and will be contributing towards Israel’s leading health system,” said Minister of Interior and Health, Moshe Arbel. “Representatives of the Ministry of Interior which I head have accompanied the Olim on this flight to further remove some of the bureaucratic barriers even prior to their landing in Israel. I wish all the Olim success in their new lives in Israel and am confident they will make significant contributions to strengthening the medical system in Israel. Welcome home!”
"With each flight of new Olim arriving to Israel, we are empowering the fulfillment of the Zionist dream and strengthening the state of Israel - ‘The one and only miracle,’ said Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel,Major General (res.) Doron Almog. “The families and young Olim that are coming to Israel are a live example of unconditional love. We are welcoming them with a loving warm hug. The Jewish Agency will continue working cooperatively with its partners to encourage Aliyah to Israel and for optimal, qualitative absorption.”
Today’s charter flight also saw a heartfelt reunion. Amongst the Olim who landed today is 77-year-old Carol Ginsberg, whose daughter Laura Ben David made Aliyah on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight back in 2002. Carol recounted in tears: "21 years ago, when Laura told my late husband, Marty, and I that she was moving to Israel with some new organization, we thought it was crazy. Nevertheless, we supported her knowing it was her dream. To see how she has grown and developed over the years while living in Israel has been wonderful for me to witness and as a mother, I couldn't be more proud. It has made me even prouder seeing my other daughters join her in Israel, Hindy and Hudi, who both made Aliyah in 2009. Even though I know Marty would have loved to be here with us, I am excited to join my daughters and make Aliyah with Nefesh B'Nefesh, as another piece of the puzzle of my family’s Aliyah journey.”
Additionally, the flight brought 45 future lone soldiers who will join the 3,500 men and women from around the world who are currently serving as part of the FIDF-Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program. Once they become Israeli citizens, these men and women will be required to enlist in the IDF, as are all Israeli citizens at the age of 18. The majority of the future lone soldiers on today’s flight are part of Tzofim-Garin Tzabar, a Friends of Israel Scouts program, who before and throughout their military service are adopted by Israeli communities that serve as their home away from home. Their absorption period includes ulpan Hebrew studies, educational tours in Israel, introduction to the military structure and the different positions.
"Amidst the challenges and complexities Israel faces today, the unwavering dedication of our young men and women from North America to make Aliyah is both inspiring and essential,” said Chairman of the Israeli Scouts Movement, Raz Pearl. “Their decision to join us, especially at this pivotal moment, underscores the profound bond between North American Jewry and the State of Israel. Together, we navigate our shared journey towards a brighter future."
The Olim represent a diverse group of individuals, both geographically and professionally, and have originated from across the United States and Canadian provinces, including New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Ontario, Minnesota, Illinois and more. The main Israeli cities these Olim are moving to include Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ra'anana, Beit Shemesh, Haifa, Afula and Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut. Amongst the Olim are a varied range of occupations, which primarily include doctors, educators, engineers, accountants, social workers and occupational therapists.
KKL-JNF's Chairwoman, Ifat Ovadia-Luski, congratulated the Olim saying “It is exciting to see Jews, throbbing with Zionist spirit, continue to make Aliyah despite the many challenges. Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael is proud to be a central partner in assisting Jews to move to Israel, which is the ultimate Zionist mission. We have been doing so since the very beginning of Zionism and will continue to do so in the future. I wish you much success in your new lives in Israel, and please know we are here by your side.”