233 US and Canadian immigrants arrive in Israel

In just the last decade alone, thousands of people have moved to Israel, strengthening the presence of the Jewish people in their historic homeland.

A special flight carrying 233 new Olim (immigrants to Israel) from North America arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday morning.

The immigrants hail from 22 US states and one Canadian province, including 24 families, 78 children and 10 medical professionals. The ages of the immigrants range from 3.5 weeks to 85 years old.

The flight was organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh, which works to promote immigration to Israel from western countries and which is now celebrating 50,000 Olim it has helped bring to Israel since 2002.

President Reuven Rivlin was there to greet them and presented the organization’s 50,000th immigrant, Rebecca Glanzer, 22, from Brooklyn, with her new Israeli ID card.

Among the new arrivals are some 70 young men and women who are slated to enlist in the IDF as lone soldiers, and six young women who will begin civilian national service.

“It is such an honor for me to join you at this special moment, the moment you have all come home,” Rivlin said. “You are no longer ‘Jews in Exile’, you are all Israelis. Each of you, young and old, men and women, have fulfilled the dream of 2000 years, you have made Aliyah.”

“Just this week we marked Tisha B’Av, when we remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The destruction of the Second Temple symbolizes the beginning of the long exile of the Jewish people. For nearly 2,000 years the Jewish people have known exile. For nearly 2,000 years, the Jews dreamt to return to the land of our forefathers. For you, dear new Olim, the exile that began then ends today. Now you are home. Welcome to Israel. Welcome to Zion. Welcome home,” Rivlin told the newcomers.

“I know the decision to make Aliyah is not easy, leaving behind family and friends. Looking for work, starting in new schools, learning a new language. There are many challenges ahead. But we are all here to support you and help you,” Rivlin added. “In just a few moments you will leave the gates of the airport and on to your new lives. We welcome you with open arms on your return to Zion, our land is your land, our home is your home. Together we will continue to build and grow here a prosperous country. Welcome.”

The welcoming ceremony was held in partnership with the Ministry for Immigration & Absorption, the Jewish Agency, KKL (JNF-USA), and the Israeli Scout Movement.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News