The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Among the 228 new immigrants from the United States and Canada that arrived to Israel on Tuesday morning, July 22, seven doctors will be working in medical centers across the country and an 18-year-old high school graduate from Chicago is getting ready to join the IDF.
Barak Vaisler of Chicago believes it’s his duty to make aliyah to the Jewish state. The Israeli-born native who moved to Chicago when he was two-years-old because of his father’s work with Motorola, has always dreamed of returning.
“I could have stayed in the United States with my parents and went to college like everyone else, but I chose the road less taken,” Vaisler told Tazpit News Agency.
“It’s honor to be here and to serve this country and I still can’t believe that I’m finally here after 16 years,” he said emotionally. Vaisler, who will join the Garin Tzabar lone soldier program in August and will go into the army in November, wants to enlist to the Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit 669. “It’s the Israeli version of the U.S. Coast Guard,” says Vaisler.
Vaisler’s first experience with a Gaza rocket took place a couple of hours after landing in Ben Gurion Airport. “I was waiting for a taxi outside when the siren went off. We had already been prepared beforehand by Nefesh B’Nefesh for the rocket sirens and security protocol before we landed in Israel” he said.
More than 2,000 rockets have been fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip at major Israeli cities and towns for the past two weeks, with several rockets directed at Ben Gurion Airport, which have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome.
According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, upon arriving to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the group received a special booklet by the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption on security measures, such as what to do when a Code Red siren sounds warning of incoming rockets. Each new Israeli immigrant was also provided with an English-language manual from the Israel Home Front Command on how to talk to children about the situation, which had been translated by Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Those immigrants planning to live in the south also received special briefings about the security situation, such as information about trauma counseling and support from English-speaking immigrants living in the area.
Among the 228 new olim, 100 are children who made aliyah with their parents including 39 girls and 61 boys. Altogether, 29 families and 54 singles joined the landmark flight, which included Olim planning to live in Israel’s south and north, as part of a joint project to settle Olim in the Negev and the Galilee. One olah, Ilana Barta, 23, from Teaneck, New Jersey, arrived with her wedding dress in hand for her August wedding with her fiance, an officer in the IDF Paratrooper unit who is on active duty in Gaza.
A number of Israeli dignitaries greeted Vaisler and the group as they touched down in Israel as new citizens including the Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver; MK Rabbi Dov Lipman; Chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky; Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Yisrael Meir Lau and Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass who escorted the special flight.
“Today’s Aliyah flight demonstrates the great resilience of the Jewish people and its determination to build the State of Israel,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Founder and Executive Director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “These olim, who are choosing to move to Israel in these difficult times are instilling hope, optimism and strength throughout Israel and the Jewish nation. The outpouring number of requests we received to join the flight out of solidarity for the citizens of Israel is inspiring.”
“If you’re looking for an excuse not to come to Israel, it’s very easy to find one,” Vaisler told Tazpit. “If you really want to be here, you come. The rockets didn’t affect my decision – in fact, they only made me want to come even more.”
“By coming here, we are showing the terrorists that they can never win.”
About the Author: Anav Silverman is a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.
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