Asaf Zamir, Consul General of Israel in New York, speaks with Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrants at JFK Airport.

“It is extremely exciting for me to be here today. It fills me with joy to have the great honor to meet you upon your making aliyah this morning,” Zamir says. “As an Israeli representing Israel in the United States, in the state of New York, there’s nothing that brings me more joy. This has to be the cherry on the top [of my job], which is being given the opportunity to say thank you to everyone here.”

Zamir recalls growing up in Florida and when he was nine-years-old his family deciding they were going to move back to Israel.

“We had our life situated in Florida and everything was comfortable and simple and easy, and I asked my father, ‘Why do we have to move?’ And he said, ‘I want you to grow up in Israel. I want you to eat hummus for lunch, I want you to go to the scouts and I want you to listen to Arik Einstein on the radio.’ This was in the eighties. We moved and it took me literally years to understand how important that was for me. But the first years were very hard because Israel is a destiny but it’s not the easiest of destinies. It is important but it’s not easy and that’s why it’s important for me to strengthen you upon your journey because the beginning isn’t always easy.”

“It is important for us that you are coming. We need you to move to Israel. We need you while you’re there to not try to blend in but to remind us daily of the set of values that you have upon your arrival,” he says. “We need you to try to make Israel more whole and more just. So even when it’s hard, I want you to remember this, I want you to not give up and to the families here, I’m sure you have a mixture of pride and sadness.”

Zamir adds: “It’s hard to let the people you love leave, but it is for such an important and just cause. So in the name of the people of Israel, thank you immensely [and] good luck. Thank you to the olim that are taking part in the most important thing that Jews can do, which is being part of the Zionist movement, being sure the Israeli people will live forever in Israel, in our eternal home.”