Against the backdrop of war and increased tensions in the region, El Al flights from New York, Los Angeles, and Miami landed at Ben Gurion Airport Thursday morning, bringing 25 new olim (immigrants) to Israel.
The olim arrived through the assistance of Nefesh B’Nefesh, in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA. Welcoming them were Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass; Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Ofir Sofer and Director General of the Ministry, Avichai Kahana.
Ranging in age from 19 to 79, the olim hail from US states including: New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio. They plan to establish their new homes across the State of Israel, from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv-Yafo, and in Haifa, Netanya, Beit Shemesh, Petah Tikva, Rosh Ha’ayin, Ma’ale Adumim, and beyond.
Minister of Aliyah and Integration Ofir Sofer (Religious Zionism) told the new immigrants: "We will never give up on the vision of the return of the nation of Israel to their land. The new immigrants from the USA, whom I welcomed today at the airport, prove and emphasize to our enemies that the belief in the righteousness of the path that has accompanied the Jewish people for the last two thousand years of exile burns even now. The same longing for the Land of Israel burns in the Jewish people, especially in the war for the existence of the Jewish people in the State of Israel."
"It is incredibly moving to welcome this week’s olim, who despite extremely tragic and unsecure circumstances, are continuing to fulfill their Zionist dreams of moving to Israel," said Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart. "As always, we remain steadfast in our mission to assist all future olim, as well as veteran olim, as they continue contributing to the growth and resilience of the State of Israel, each in their own dedicated ways. There is no doubt that today’s olim send an unmistakable message that the Jewish nation is united, strong and resilient, and we welcome them to their new homes."
Joshua Rosenthal, 36, from Baltimore, shared, "My aunt immigrated to Israel nearly 45 years ago in 1979. She thought I was crazy when I told her I was still sticking with my plan to make aliyah now. But as far as I’m concerned, as long as I have a seat on the plane with my name on it – I’m there! It’s very important that the people of Israel know that Jews all over the world still support Israel with everything we have and we're still coming. Hope is our secret weapon and it's what will get our people through this."
"Seeing olim arrive in Israel during the most challenging days we've ever known fills our hearts and gives us strength to carry on," said Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog. "These olim boost our resilience and will be part of rebuilding our wonderful country. I embrace each one of them."
Chairwoman of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, Ifat Ovadia-Luski, said, "Making aliyah to Israel at a time of war is a true testament that the spirit of Zionism and the love of the land of Israel continue to pulsate. The Jews from around the world express their deep identification by immigrating to Israel. We at KKL congratulate the new olim on their arrival to Israel at this distinct time, and we will stand by to ensure their rapid absorption."
Assisting Thursday’s new olim and the hundreds of olim who are currently planning their moves to Israel in the near future, Nefesh B’Nefesh is working around the clock to support its vast community of nearly 80,000 North American olim as well as the thousands of international lone soldiers (those without immediate family in Israel) in its dedicated FIDF – Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program.
The projects include offering free therapy and counseling services to families in the South, distributing much-needed supplies for olim in problematic areas, hosting weddings at cost for northern and southern olim as well as lone soldiers, assisting to fly physicians from abroad to lend immediate support to the Israeli healthcare system, expanding the reach of its 24/6 "Answers" hotline, and allocating financial grants for olim families impacted by the war.
Nefesh B’Nefesh is also assisting thousands of lone soldier olim currently drafted (both in active duty and reservists), by offering free mental health support services; manning a dedicated hotline and information center for parents of lone soldiers; and offering informational broadcasts in multiple languages for olim and families of lone soldiers, which has reached thousands of homes to date.