Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA, welcomed its 74,000th Oleh on Wednesday morning.
Charley Smith, 34, made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) on Wednesday from Florida, reuniting with his wife, Shaked, and their son, Adar, who arrived in Israel earlier this month. His arrival comes just one week before Israel celebrates its 74th Independence Day.
“As we celebrate the miraculous 74th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, we are thrilled to welcome our 74,000th oleh (immigrant - ed.),” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We are incredibly proud of this milestone and remain devoted to providing every individual who makes aliyah with the resources and support needed to best integrate into Israel society, furthering the development of our young state.”
Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Charley’s connection to Israel began at a young age after his parents, Michael and Shelli Smith, traveled to Israel on a young leadership mission. As a result of his parents’ influence, Charley’s passion for Judaism soared, and his connection to Israel was solidified during the semester he spent at Kibbutz Tzuba in high school.
Charley met his wife, Shaked, while he was staffing a Birthright trip in 2014 and she was one of the IDF soldiers who joined that same trip. Charley and Shaked stayed in touch afterwards, visiting each other in their respective countries for several years. In 2017, Shaked relocated to the United States, and there the couple wed.
“It was something that had always been picking away at me, since the first time I was in Israel in high school,” Charley explained with regards to his aliyah. He added that, “When Shaked moved to the US, she didn’t want to be one of those Israelis that never moves back to Israel. It is incredibly special to finally be here, and we are looking forward to beginning this new chapter in our life and growing our family here in Israel.”
The Smiths plan to live in Kfar Saba with their two dogs, Gever and Pamela.