Forty-three young Jews from the US arrived in Israel this week, as part of a joint Nefesh B' Nefesh and Immigrant Absorption Ministry operation.
The group was sent to several kibbutzim across Israel, where the new Israelis will learn to speak Hebrew. In three months time they also intend to enlist in the IDF.
Other people might think it is a crazy thing to do, but if you live in Israel, you have to serve in the army, said 21-year-old Elan Bielski, who graduated from college just one day before making aliyah.
Bielski's family history can be made into a Hollywood movie: His grandfather, Zus Bielski and his two brothers formed the famed Bielski partisans during WWII. It was the largest group of Jewish partisans who fought against Nazi Germany, saving more than 1,200 of their brethren.
This family history, said young Bielski, was part of the reasons which inspired him to come to Israel.
Mothers crying at the airport (Photo: Liron Milshtein)
Rachel Schneider, 18, has been thinking about coming to Israel since junior high. I'm here because I want to live in Israel, she said, adding her parents are planning to follow in her footsteps. Schneider intends to join the IDF and serve as an enlisted teacher.
Michael Basin, 22, already fluent in Hebrew, said that in his mind's eye only the best of the best join the IDF: "I want to serve in a combat unit because that's what Israel needs me to do. Suckers? I'm sorry for any Israeli who thinks we're suckers."