Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

Two-thirds of recent NBN applicants stated that they want to make Aliyah in summer 2020. Over half of the applicants come from New York, New Jersey, California and Florida.

The current COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching consequences beyond the devastating health and economic losses. Individuals across the world are re-examining their values and priorities, learning to adjust and increase flexibility in considerations within their personal lives. Now pile on top of that the rioting in many major US cities. For many, this has led to a renewed interest in Aliyah.

Nefesh B’Nefesh, the organization which facilitates Aliyah from North America, in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and Jewish National Fund-USA, has been working around the clock to ensure that the option to make Aliyah continues even through the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Aliyah during the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo by: Yonit Schiller
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Thousands are applying to make Aliyah

The Aliyah organization has recently reported record-breaking numbers of interested Olim. May 2020 showed a 100% increase in North American interest in Aliyah in comparison to numbers from May 2019. While April showed a 50% increase in Olim who applied for Aliyah from April 2019, May 2020 is the highest recorded month of Aliyah application that Nefesh B’Nefesh has experienced in the past 18 years since its founding.

In May, over 800 families and singles submitted online applications, out of a total of 1,178 Aliyah applications which were downloaded and started since the beginning of the month.

In comparison, only 424 Aliyah applications were submitted in May 2019. The average age of May’s applicants was 28, and about two-thirds of the submitted applications were for an expected Aliyah date within 2020. The organization also had a 127% increase in incoming calls over May from potential Olim, in comparison with the same month in 2019. Aliyah interest for 18-22 year olds has nearly doubled from the past year.

Two-thirds of the applicants stated that they want to make Aliyah in summer 2020. Over half of the applicants come from New York, New Jersey, California and Florida which have all been badly hit by corona outbreaks, and now, the riots.

“Aliyah is continuing and even on the rise, as it is increasingly being considered a viable option for many Jews around the world. As such, we are committed to finding solutions for all those who want to make Aliyah amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” Rabbi Yehoshua Fass told JewishPress.com. Rabbi Fass is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. He added, “Over the last eighteen years, we have provided solutions through challenging times and circumstances. We are now, as always, working around the clock to help those interested in Aliyah fulfill their dreams and offer practical tools through a variety of virtual programming and individual guidance.”

The organization has welcomed a few special group Aliyah flights over the past months from the beginning of the outbreak, and has several additional flights planned to arrive throughout the summer.

“Ever since my wife and I first visited Israel over thirty years ago, we have been dreaming of the day when we could come home permanently,” said new Oleh from Cleveland, Ken Goldblatt, who made Aliyah last month on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group Aliyah flight. “After many visits, and years of instilling a love of Israel in our children, we are excited to be joining our daughter in Israel, where she will soon be getting married, and look forward to welcoming our son and his family in the next two months! While it is difficult to leave family and friends in America, we hope to travel back often to visit.”

The Aliyah organization is working with its partners to ensure that any new bureaucratic and federal guidelines implemented because of the novel coronavirus, are clearly relayed to the Olim and that it affects the Aliyah process as minimally as possible. For instance, currently, all new Olim must all go directly into quarantine for two weeks, as mandated by the Israeli government.

Nefesh B’Nefesh has also pivoted all of their Aliyah programming to digital platforms, allowing for the influx of potential Olim across North America and beyond to easily access webinars, general information and FAQs on Aliyah at their convenience and from the safety of their own homes.

This new style of programming began with the Nefesh B’Nefesh Virtual Mega Event held on March 15th in place of the organization’s annual fair which generally takes place in person in the tri-state area.

Since then, the organization has hosted over 80 online events, which have reached some 4,000 participants on Zoom and over 10,000 views on Facebook Live, as well as hundreds of personal meetings with potential Olim, setting a new precedent for how the organization can reach individuals abroad considering Aliyah, as well as Olim already in Israel, in order to address their Aliyah needs.

Additional information is available at: www.nbn.org.il or on 1-866-4-ALIYAH

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