Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Katzman family
The Katzman family from Toronto at the airport before making Aliyah to Israel.

Twenty-eight Olim will celebrate their very first Rosh Hashana in Israel as new citizens after landing at Ben Gurion Airport over the last 24 hours. The Olim were part of a Nefesh B’Nefesh Group Aliyah flight which arrived from New York, as well as several Olim who touched down from Toronto.

The flight was coordinated in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, and JNF-USA. These Olim – the last group to be welcomed in this Jewish New year – are closing a notable year for Aliyah. This summer alone, the organization fielded record-breaking interest in moving to Israel with a 150% increase in Aliyah applications.

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The new Olim, among them four families, hail from a wide variety of backgrounds, and each will embark on their unique journey in Israel. Varying in ages from 7 to 94, they will make their home from the bustling cities of Tel Aviv and Herzliya to the quiet kibbutz of Nir Eliyahu. Coming from New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and Washington, DC, these immigrants are eager to begin a new chapter of their lives in Israel.

“In these times of global uncertainty, we never cease to be amazed and stand in awe of the resilience of the Olim who are continuing to make Aliyah despite all the challenges of COVID,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Their yearning to return home and actualization of their dreams underscores the visceral connection between the Jewish People and our eternal homeland. Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with our partners, will continue to offer holistic support to all our Olim as we pray for a healthy and meaningful year ahead.”

“I am glad that the skies have remained open for Aliyah and Olim have been continuing to arrive on schedule during these challenging times. Despite the lockdowns and Corona related restrictions, we proudly continue our holy work of Aliyah,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Penina Tamano- Shata. “I congratulate today’s new Olim from the United States who will be joining over 13,500 Olim who have arrived in Israel during 2020, to celebrate the beginning of the Jewish New Year in the land of their forefathers. The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, under my leadership, is prepared and ready to welcome all future Olim arriving during and after the lockdown period. These Olim will never be alone, as we will do our utmost to take care of all their needs.”

Starting from today, the new Olim will have to adhere to the strict 14-day quarantine requirement imposed by the Israeli government for all traveling from the United States. However, despite having to celebrate the Jewish new year in isolation, Asher Daniels, a 29-year old native of Stamford, CT, is thrilled to be home and said: “Due to quarantine requirements I will be solo for Rosh Hashanah this year, a new first,” said Daniels. “Considering the circumstances, I am just glad to be able to enter the country and proceed with establishing my new life in the Jewish homeland. As a rabbi reminded me some time ago in this process, Aliyah is more than a physical move from one location to another, it represents a spiritual ascension. I suppose there is no better time for a new beginning than the new year.”

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