Photo: AP
New home
Photo: AP
Photo: GPO
Sharon: You have brought us great happiness
Photo: GPO

Home at last

400 new immigrants land in Israel day after Netanya bombing attack; largest single-day migration from North America since Israel founded

BEN-GURION AIRPORT - Tuesday’s terror attack at the entrance to Netanya's Hasharon Mall did not deter North American families from moving to Israel.


Some 250 immigrants arrived in Israel Wednesday on a flight from New York and another 150 from Toronto - the largest group to make aliya from North America since the founding of the state.


The new immigrants were received by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at special welcoming ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport.


Sharon greets immigrants at Ben-Gurion Airport   (Photo: GPO) 


However Sharon started his speech by welcoming the new immigrants in Hebrew, even though many could not understand.


“We often combine happiness with grief, “ he said. “Your arrival is a source of great happiness for us, but yesterday we were faced with a murderous act of terror that has caused us all grief.”


The only safe place


Jeff Rochberger from New Jersey made aliyah with his wife and five children. After landing in Israel, they drove straight to the town of Bet Shemesh near Jerusalem, where many of their friends have relocated over the past few years.


See video of new immigrants' landing:


While terror exists all over the world, he said, Israel was the one place he felt safe.


Another immigrant, Shana Harris, 17, came to Israel to be with her boyfriend Roee Shemen from Herzlia, and volunteer for the army. She told Ynet that she had planned to immigrate to Israel since the age of 13.




In an ironic twist, one immigrant family, the Bermans – including four children, two dogs, two birds, a chinchilla and a gerbil - decided to make their new home in Netanya.


Dr. David Berman is a well-known plastic surgeon from Potomac, Maryland who made headlines several years ago for reattaching John Bobbitt’s severed penis several years ago.


Now, he’ll open a practice in a city that has suffered multiple terror attacks since the Oslo process began in 1993, including the infamous seder night bombing at the city’on the first night of Pesach in 2002.


Another couple, Jordan and Stella Frankel, formerly of Potomac, Maryland. He’s a high school principle, she’s a Japanese convert equally comfortable cooking cholent for Shabbat and the sushi she grew up with.


The newly religious couple will make their new home in the Gush Etzion settlement of Neve Daniel.


Call of the moment


At a farewell ceremony on Tuesday at New York's Kennedy Airport, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon pointed out Israel is not the only terrorist target in the world.


“There’s terrorism in New York and London also,” he said.


As the new immigrants boarded the plane, Ayalon praised their “important decision,” and said aliya is the most important thing American Jews can do to strengthen Israel.


“It’s the call of the moment,” he said.


One absorption official said the current economic state of both countries means it is an opportune time for Jews to make aliya.


"Given the explosion in U.S. housing prices in recent years, many people can sell their homes in America for record prices and buy homes at bargain prices in Israel,” he said.


2000 new immigrants a year


Together, the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization and the Jewish Agency bring approximately 2,000 new immigrants a year to Israel, most of whom receive financial support and help finding work.


The initiative, financed in part by Florida millionaire Tony Gelbart, began three years, as an attempt to bring one Jewish person on aliya for every Israeli killed in the al-Aqsa intifada.


פרסום ראשון: 07.13.05, 07:55
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