215 Jews who boarded a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight as citizens of the US and Canada, landed Wednesday morning at Ben Gurion Airport as full Israeli citizens.
Last summer, a pilot initiative to streamline the Aliyah processing was offered to a handful of Olim when representatives of Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration and the Population and Immigration Authority handed out immigration certificates onboard the flight to Israel. On Wednesday, this opportunity was extended to all the passengers on the charter flight. The olim filled out all the needed forms and were handed their certificates at their seats, thus finalizing their Aliyah processing before entering the promised land.
The charter flight included 22 families with 75 children, 15 single men and women, and 17 retirees. The youngest Oleh on the flight was 4 months old, and the oldest Oleh was 77 years old. Also onboard: seven doctors and 15 health professionals who will be integrating into the Israeli medical system. 27 Olim on the flight came as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh-KKL Go Beyond initiative, aimed at developing Israel’s peripheral regions and Jerusalem.
About a quarter of the Olim on Wednesday’s flight have chosen to volunteer in the IDF. The 45 future lone soldiers who will join the 3,500 men and women from around the world who are currently serving as part of the FIDF-Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program.
They will be enlisted as lone soldiers with Garin Tzabar, a Friends of Israel Scouts program which will offer support before and throughout their military service, coordinating communities across Israel to become a home away from home for the lone soldiers. Their absorption period will also include educational tours in Israel, ulpan Hebrew studies, and an introduction to the Israeli military structure.
Wednesday’s charter flight witnessed a heartfelt reunion of 77-year-old Carol Ginsberg with her daughter Laura Ben David who made Aliyah on the first Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight back in 2002. Carol recalled tearfully: “21 years ago when Laura told my late husband, Marty, and me that she was moving to Israel with some new organization, we thought it was crazy. Nevertheless, we supported her knowing it was her dream. To see how she has grown and developed over the years while living in Israel has been wonderful for me to witness and as a mother, I couldn’t be prouder. It has made me even prouder seeing my other daughters, Hindy and Hudi, join her in Israel after both had made Aliyah in 2009. I know Marty would have loved to be here with us, and I am excited to join my daughters and make Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh, as another piece of the puzzle of my family’s Aliyah journey.”