An overflow crowd greeted 233 North American immigrants who arrived in Israel, including the 50,000th brought to Israel by Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that facilitates immigration to Israel.
More than 200 new Israeli citizens were greeted Wednesday morning upon arrival by President Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Absorption Sofia Landver, Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Chairmen Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, and Jewish Agency Director Natan Sharansky.
“I am happy to be part of this special and exciting moment, the moment when you are marking the transfer from the exile to the Land of Israel, from the Diaspora to home,” Rivlin said at the festive greeting ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport. “You are no longer Jews in exile—you are Israelis.”
The new immigrants range in age from a three-week-old baby to an 85-year-old man and include 24 families.
The flight also brought 75 “lone soldiers” who left their families in the US and Canada to move to Israel and volunteer for the Israeli Defense Forces. They will join the more than 900 lone soldiers from the US and 3,000 from around the world currently serving in the IDF.
Amit Fogel ,17, from New Jersey, is one of the soon-to-be lone soldiers who decided to move to Israel without her family in an effort to contribute to the State of Israel. “I have always been a Zionist and I decided to move here to join the army and to strengthen Israel,” she stated. “Nefesh B’Nefesh has been amazing with that. They have helped me with everything and I was able to turn to them with any problem that I had.”
“The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin is proud to welcome these new immigrants soon to be drafting as lone soldiers,” said Ari Kalker, a senior staff member at the Lone Soldier Center.
The State of Israel places a high priority on Aliyah and offers a variety of services for new olim, such as free college tuition and tax breaks. The government recently declared a new national holiday, called “Aliyah Day,” designed to celebrate those who have immigrated to Israel.
By: Tzvi Lev/TPS