VIDEO - Two hundred and twenty new immigrants arrived in Israel Wednesday as part of a joint aliyah project by the Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) organization and the Jewish Agency.
The new olim traveled to Israel from North America on the 23rd plane to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport over the last four years as part of the project.
“We dreamed of reaching 10,000 olim, and now that we have, our next goal is to bring at least 5,000 olim to Israel per year,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, executive director and founder of NBN during a ceremony held at an airport in New York.
“We dreamt of the return to Zion – but you aren’t dreaming, you are doing it,” the rabbi added.
|New immigrants arrive from USA (Video: Yaron Brener)|
Amongst the olim were a couple of doctors and their three children, an 87 year-old man who repaired the “Exodus” when it was on its way to Israel and docked in one of France’s ports, a 24 year-old named after Yoni Netanyahu that made the decision to make aliyah the day after his friend was killed in the second Lebanon war, a 60 year-old judge, and a retired couple who dreamt of living in their “true home.”
All the passengers on board had one thing in common – the strong aspiration to make aliyah. “Aliyah is my dream, all my life I’ve wanted to fulfill it, and the war with Hizbullah pushed it forward,” said 24 year-old Yoni.
“I realized I wanted to do something for my country and I decided to enlist to the paratroopers,” he added.
“Israel is our home. Despite all the problems we have here, it’s most comfortable living here,” said Sharon Silton, and optometrist from New York.
Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Niv Calderon)
Whereas 87 year-old Samuel Habar said, “I didn’t believe the Exodus would make it to Israel’s shores, I thought it would sink on its way so I didn’t get on board. But now, decades later, I wish to come and live near my grandchildren, here at home, in Israel.”
Shortly after the plane landed, there was a lot of excitement at the airport. The new immigrants were greeted by Knesset members, representatives of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, and Natan Sharansky.
Simcha Gluck, the 10,000th immigrant to arrive as part of the project, expressed joy upon arrival. His wife Rachel said, “I didn’t image it would be so exciting, now I feel I’ve arrived home.”
NBN recognized the potential in bringing Jews from welfare countries such as the United States, Canada, and England several years ago. The organization also recognized that the biggest obstacle lay in the fact that organizations bringing immigrants to Israel failed to “speak their language” which led to immigration from such countries low.
“There were many obstacles that we’ve taken care to remove, with the most central being the question of employment, to which we provided an answer,” Rabbi Fass said, “There is a huge difference in making aliyah out of choice as opposed to making aliyah because you are persecuted.”
In addition to finding employment and housing solutions in order to make things easier on new immigrants, NBN representatives went through the plane and filled in electronic forms in order to speed up processes in the country.