Netanyahu with the immigrants. 'Welcome home'
Photo: Yaron Brener
The plane at the airport. 'A thing called Zionism'
Photo: Yaron Brener

238 olim from US land in Israel

Undeterred by security situation, heat and cultural barriers, hundreds of new immigrants from North America arrive in Jewish state. 'You have the opportunity to build our country,' Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells them at Ben-Gurion Airport

"When we say 'welcome home,' it has historical significance. You are here, and you have an opportunity to start a new life, build our country, our home," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told hundreds of new immigrants from the United States and Canada who landed Tuesday at Ben-Gurion Airport.


The prime minister said that for the first time in 2,000 years the number of Jews living in Israel is slated to exceed the number of Jews living in the Diaspora. "The future of the Jews is here, in the land of Israel," he added.


The second flight this summer organized by Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that encourages and coordinates the aliyah of Jews from around the world, and the Jewish Agency carried 238 new olim from North America. Some 55 of the immigrants are young people scheduled to enlist in the IDF in the coming months.


The organization said that more than 430 young adults will immigrate to Israel this year from the United States with the express purpose of enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces. Overall, more than 4,000 Jews from North America are expected to make aliyah by year's end.


'I want to be a shooting instructor'

Tony Gelbart, Chairman and Co-Founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, congratulated the new immigrants in a celebratory ceremony at the airport. "People ask me every time, 'How can you explain the phenomenon of people deciding to immigrate to Israel and start a new life?' And I answer them, 'There is this concept called Zionism.'"


Sophie Lee, 18, from New York, decided to leave her family in order to enlist in the IDF after participating in a short preparatory pre-army training program for high school students, last year.


"I want to be a shooting instructor because I really like guns," she said. According to her, three years ago she never dreamed of moving to Israel, but then she started studying at a Jewish day school where she began to learn Hebrew.


She has no relatives in Israel, but has a lot of friends. "I hope that my friends from the Nahal group will become my real family. I am a little worried that sometimes I'll feel lonely, but I hope I won't be sorry about the move and that it will be worthwhile to move to Israel. My parents cried at the airport, but my mom already signed up for ulpan, so I hope that maybe they'll come to Israel," Lee said.


פרסום ראשון: 08.04.09, 11:45
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