242 new Olim from North America landed at Ben Gurion Airport Wednesday morning on Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 60th specially chartered ELAL flight, in the midst of a breathtaking heat wave that has kept the temps in the 90s and the humidity at 90% for weeks now, or as this phenomenon is commonly referred to: August.
The new Olim are from a variety of cultural and demographic backgrounds, hailing from 22 US states and two Canadian provinces. They include 103 children under the age of 17, 21 medical professionals, three sets of twins, and a 28-day-old baby, who officially became the youngest north-American to make Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer.
The flight also carried 41 future Lone Soldiers—volunteering to serve in the IDF without their immediate family in country—who will join the close to 1,000 Lone Soldiers from North America and close to 4,000 Lone Soldiers from around the world. Once they become Israeli citizens, these young men and women will enlist in the IDF as required of all Israelis at the age of 18. Some of whom will enlist through Gar’in Tzabar of the Tzofim youth movement.
Today’s flight included a diverse group of professionals: artists, chemists, lawyers and non-profit leaders, who are moving to communities throughout Israel. 78 Olim on today’s flight will be part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Go Beyond program, which provides enhanced Aliyah packages and increased services to new Olim moving to Israel’s periphery regions and to Jerusalem.
This morning’s flight was facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL), and Jewish National Fund-USA.
A special welcome ceremony was held at Ben Gurion International Airport upon arrival, featuring Second Lady Sara Netanyahu; Minister of Aliyah and Integration Yoav Galant; Chairman of The Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog; Chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel and Mayor of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut Haim Bibas; Mayor of Beit Shemesh Aliza Bloch; Mayor of Bat Yam Tzvika Brot, and the co-founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.
“As the Jewish Agency marks 90 years since its founding, I am delighted to have hundreds of new Olim arrive in the State of Israel. Together with our partners and the Israeli government, we have brought over three million Olim, from dozens of countries around the world, and helped fulfill their Zionist dreams to live in their homeland,” Isaac Herzog said, adding, “These Olim have built Israeli society and our country. I would like to extend a mazal tov to the Olim who have come here from North America to build their homes and futures here. The Jewish Agency will accompany and assist the Olim through this next stage.”
Rabbi Fass, the executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, said: “Each and every Oleh brings a world of their own to Israel – culturally, ideologically and professionally as they strengthen the Jewish nation. As we celebrate our 60,000th Oleh today, we reflect upon how, Nefesh B’Nefesh, as an institution, has been privileged to not only help tens of thousands of Jews fulfill their Aliyah dreams, but has also contributed to building and developing the state of Israel through these Olim.”
Danny Atar, World Chairman of KKL, said: “We view Aliyah as a value of utmost importance, especially the Olim who plan on serving the country and will one day create permanent homes in Israel. To help realize this dream, we are currently launching a long-term flagship program, “Israel Relocation 2040 – KKL Building the Land of Tomorrow,” aimed at bringing a million and a half new residents to the Negev and Galil. We will do everything we can to give these young Olim a stable ground during their military service, while providing the proper tools for integrating into this country to ensure the long-term success of their life in Israel.”