Some 220 new Olim, or immigrants, from 17 US states and two Canadian provinces landed in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to begin their new lives as Israeli citizens.
The flight’s passengers included a diverse mix of Olim, including former US servicemen, families of all sizes, young professionals and others.
A festive ceremony was held for the newcomers at Ben Gurion Airport. Guests included Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.
“We are celebrating today the Aliyah of hundreds of new Olim who will begin their lives in the Jewish State, many of whom are modern-day pioneers moving to Israel’s North and South,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founder and Executive Director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “The thousands of Jews that will be returning to their homeland from the Diaspora over the course of this year are an inspiration to us all in helping to spearhead the future of the State of Israel.”
Today’s flight is the first of two such flights, and along with nine group Aliyah flights and Olim arriving independently on a daily basis, will bring the total of Olim coming to Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer to 2,000.
Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with its partners, has brought nearly 50,000 Olim to Israel from the US, Canada and the UK.
Landver welcomed the new Israelis, saying Israel viewed North American immigration as “a wonderful asset to the country – one that provides strength both economically and on a national level.”
“Especially now, as global terrorism raises its head, it is not a given that a person will decide to leave his home and settle somewhere new, but as Jews, we know that we always have a home waiting for us – the State of Israel,” she added.
“The immigrants arriving from the United States and Canada are coming not out of distress but rather out of excitement to take part in the largest national project of the Jewish people,” said Sharansky. “We must ensure that the State of Israel remains a place in which every Jew feels at home, a place that ignites Jews’ imagination and strengthens their identity and security.”
The flight was chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh and facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News