Photo Credit: Shahar Azran
The Beavers family of Columbus, Ohio, among the 221 new immigrants to Israel aboard the 53rd Nefesh B'Nefesh charter aliyah flight.

“We will be a part of something so big—it is unthinkable to me,” Tracie Beavers said three-quarters of the way through a nearly 12-hour flight last week.

The Columbus, Ohio, mother of three was on her way to Israel, making aliyah with the support of the Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) agency.

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Tracie’s journey is an unlikely one that began about a decade ago, peaking in 2013 and triumphing when she boarded the plane to Israel. Tracie and her husband Aaron are both African-American converts to Judaism. Their long-winding path to the Jewish homeland began a generation ago with Aaron Beavers’ father, who “changed his lifestyle” when he discovered Torah, said Tracie.

Aaron’s father infused in him a love of yiddishkeit, though he never converted his wife or children. Aaron Beavers was raised Christian, but nearly two decades later, he came to the same conclusion as his father—that Torah is truth.

In 2009, Aaron and Tracie decided they wanted to be Jewish. In 2013, they completed their conversion. They pro-ceeded converted their oldest children—Anayah, 8, and Gabrielle, 6. Chanan, 2, was born into the Jewish faith.

About a year ago, the family decided the next step was moving to Israel.

“If you believe something, you should do it as much as you possibly can. You should be as close to it as you can,” Aaron Beavers told JNS.org.

The family has moved to Bat Hefer, a community in the Sharon plain, east of the central Israeli city of Netanya. Aaron said he plans to be a plumber. Tracie will continue to stay at home with the children. A former member of the U.S. National Guard, she said she now hopes to volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces.

The members of the Beavers family were just a handful of the 221 diverse faces—all newly minted immigrants in the Jewish state—aboard the NBN charter flight on the El Al airline that took off from New York City’s John F. Ken-nedy International Airport on July 12. It was the 53rd charter flight in NBN’s history. Other organizational partners behind the flight included Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA.

NBN’s co-founder, Rabbi Joshua Fass, told the group prior to takeoff, “Returning to Zion is like dreaming. … It is a diverse group of Jews coming together for a common dream.” The other co-founder, Tony Gelbart, said each aliyah flight is as exciting as the next.

“For these olim (immigrants to Israel), it is their first time,” he said.

Aboard the plane were a four-month-old baby and a 90-year-old bubbie, as well as two sets of three-generation families. In total, there were 32 families and 95 children. NBN has helped more than 45,000 olim get to Israel since its founding in 2001.

The 90-year-old bubbie was Sue Friedman, grandmother of Rachel Azaria, a member of the Israeli Knesset for the Kulanu party. Friedman said she has wanted to move to Israel since she left Germany at the age of 13, years before the Nazis annihilated 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. She spent many years raising a family in Riverdale, N.Y., but infused in all of her children a love of the Jewish state. She is being embraced in Israel by 27 great-grandchildren.

“I am ready,” she told JNS.org. Friedman is now residing in an independent living facility in Ra’anana.

While there were mixed emotions in the air as families boarded the flight in New York, leaving loved ones behind in America and feeling unsure of what exactly the future holds in Israel, there was nothing but joy upon landing.

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64 COMMENTS

  1. 🙂 Great for them. And as far as the comment below, I understand that a non-Jew would not agree with the Talmud, etc., as he is a Christian, not Jewish. In the same manner, I never refer to the Torah as the “old Testament”, as it would imply there is a “new” one. To each his own. This wonderful family decided to take the plunge and become Jewish, even to the point of defending Israel. They are not doing this to “diss” anyone else, it is just what they have come to believe.

  2. Israel is the only nation state that protects and defends western civilization, democracy and freedoms. it is not cowed by the savage beasts nor is it afraid. it is ready. that's what these people know and that is why they are coming to Israel.

  3. by jewish torah G-D laws all converts are welcome but , once they convert they have to be 1000% torah followers all laws, and keep shaboot? now my question is , are they following the laws of torah? cause if u convert and dont follow ur not a jew,

  4. by jewish torah G-D laws all converts are welcome but , once they convert they have to be 1000% torah followers all laws, and keep shaboot? now my question is , are they following the laws of torah? cause if u convert and dont follow ur not a jew,

  5. Benjamin Netanyahu pledge to do everything in your power to prevent giving away even one inch of Great Israel soil to the palestines. Praise Netanyahu and Praise the Lord. The world can rest with peace of mind. No nuclear agreement with Iran to end the planet with nuclear bombs. If hamas and iran attempts to harm Israel you risking your lives. Crush all the palestines take all the necessary actions to execute ISIS come on MOSSAD. Great Israel is of JEWS never ever of idiots palestines and kick all the ISIS from our ISRAEL with Immediate effect. Wake up world! Do NOT mess with Israel, the Jewish people AND GOD. They will think twice before they attack Israel!!!! Everybody knows Israel has the capability to wipe them off the face of the earth.

  6. This is an amazing, inspiring and heart warming story. I'm also happy that they're leaving the capitol of Ohio. Other than Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, there's nothing much in Ohio. Michigan wins again!!

  7. You don’t think I am Jewish? Don’t let the papal mitre fool you. As I am a hard atheist one of my FB friends thought it would be funny to photo shop my face onto the body of a former Pope. Most people thought it was a riot so I kept it. Furthermore, I lived in Israel for over a year, and returned to my border kibbutz during the Yom Kippur War to help out. In fact, I suspect I have done more for Israel than any non-Israeli on this site. Of course, Israel under Labour was a much better country. Are you Jewish, Ellen? What have YOU done for Israel?

  8. Gilbert Wald : Sorry all Jews are Jews right wing, Left wing and in the middle.. You have had stinking comments. spread all overthe place. I agree with Ellen Francis, time show respect. We are here to solve issue not be part of the problem.

  9. Yeah, that was my question as well. Why can't they just be olim? Or, if like my husband and me, they choose to share their conversion story, why is it necessary to make an issue of their race? They're my brother and sister and nieces and nephew. Welcome home, kids!

  10. Yes. Socialist Zionists of the Labour Party, and ruled Israel for its first quarter century. David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Abba Eban. Giants, compared to the pygmies ruling Israel now. I had the privilege of living there during this period, before Israel started circling the right wing toilet bowl.

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