While Americans were celebrating their Independence Day and the Canadians marked Canada Day earlier this week, 201 new immigrants from the US and Canada made aliyah to Israel on Tuesday, arriving on a charter flight organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates aliyah from the US, Canada and the UK.
Hundreds of people were standing outside the airport, welcoming the immigrants with cheers and song.
Among the immigrants who arrived were 34 families and 51 single men and women. The oldest immigrant has just celebrated 82, and the youngest is only a month and a half old. The total number of children on board was 78, with five pairs of twins.
Of the total number of immigrants, 47 will live in the periphery, while the rest will settle in the central cities.
Jared Bates, 18, immigrated to Israel from Ontario, Canada, to join the IDF next year. In the meantime, he will be welcomed in Kibbutz Yagur, where he will learn Hebrew.
"I see it as an adventure," said Bates. "All my life I was a Zionist, and I studied in Jewish institutions. Today I'm applying everything I was taught to do, and there is no better feeling. I feel now what it means to be a true Zionist."
Dr. Jeremy Berg, 44, who immigrated to Israel from Chicago with his wife Jennifer, 38, and their three young children—Eli, Rafi and Elka—said the decision to immigrate to Israel was clear for them, as they have been sending their children to Jewish education facilities, which are considered private.
"When my little girl's education costs more than I have to pay for educating my three children in Israel, the choice becomes very simple," he said.