A specially chartered El-Al flight carrying 220 new immigrants from North America landed Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv. The group was greeted by 800 Israelis in a festive ceremony held at the airport with Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni in attendance. The flight was organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, which is dedicated to increasing aliyah from North America and the United Kingdom.
Among the new arrivals is the Jordan family of New Jersey, whose maternal grandfather was a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Israeli Independence War before moving to the United States in the mid-50's.
When he passed away two years ago the family decided they would immigrate to Israel in his honor. His grandson, Ben Jordan, wore his grandfather's army jacket from the war and held a sign saying 'We're coming back to what you fought for!'
Photos: Sasson Tiram
Nefesh B'Nefesh chairman, former Israeli ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon, said he believed immigration from North America would only increase over the next few years: "We're at the start of an era during which immigration from North America will reach unprecedented proportions."
Over the past five years, the number of olim from the United States and Canada has increased by about 80 percent.
This summer over 2,200 immigrants from North America and the UK are scheduled to arrive in Israel through Nefesh B'Nefesh. The oldest immigrant is 97, the youngest only two months old. Among those expected to arrive are 425 families and 550 singles.