At the airport
At the airportWorld Bnei Akiva spokesperson

Exactly one week ago they were still playing football in Manchester or Liverpool; they were preparing for an activity that they would coordinate as counselors at their local Bnei Akiva. Then the phone rang.

"The skies are going to be closing because of the virus," they were told. "Your flight from England to Israel leaves in another 48 hours. Whoever doesn't come - we can't promise when they'll be able to."

No less than 40 members of the World Bnei Akiva (WBA) movement, who had joined various MASA programs in Israel, arrived last week as part of a joint logistical operation by World Bnei Akiva and MASA. On Monday morning, their quarantine ended.

Royi is the Director of the Israel Programs Department at WBA, said: "The original plan was for the participants to arrive on September 1. Because of the virus, we knew enough to tell them ahead of time that they needed to be vaccinated and relatively speaking available, because of the issues with the closed skies and the concern that one of the countries would be declared red."

"We have our hand on the pulse, and when we identified that England was being put on the list and it could be that it would turn red, together with MASA we organized for our participants one of the last flights from England to Israel. We took care of logistics to absorb them in our pre-military academy in Migdal Oz, we took care of meals, of a Shabbat atmosphere, and more."

Ohad Tal, Secretary General of WBA, said: "Over 300 participants registered this year for long-term programs in Israel. That means they are relying on us and feel safe in Israel. For our part, we are in contact with all the relevant bodies, in order to allow our participants to arrive here, feel at home, and experience Israel despite the virus. We see both sending the emissaries and bringing the participants as an important part in the bridge between Israel and the Diaspora, and we are committed to ensuring ongoing activities."

The Bnei Akiva members at Ben Gurion Airport
The Bnei Akiva members at Ben Gurion AirportWorld Bnei Akiva spokesperson
The Bnei Akiva members at the airport
The Bnei Akiva members at the airportWorld Bnei Akiva spokesperson