The final charter aliyah flight for 2009 – organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption – arrived Wednesday, bringing 210 new immigrants to Israel from the United States and Canada.
Wednesday's flight caps off a record year of North American aliyah, in which 3,800 olim moved to Israel from the US and Canada. This was the largest number of Jews to make aliyah from North America within one year since 1983.
Additionally, Nefesh B’Nefesh facilitated the aliyah of 621 Jews from the United Kingdom, bringing the total number of olim assisted by Nefesh B'Nefesh (in cooperation with the Jewish Agency) to 4,421. This figure not only reflects an organizational increase of over 38% from last year but also indicates that Nefesh B'Nefesh has assisted 27% of the global aliyah to Israel this year.
“The rising interest in aliyah from North America is very encouraging for the State of Israel, and is a clear indication that aliyah is becoming more of a mainstream choice for many Jews” said Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Tony Gelbart. “We are confident that the numbers of Western Olim will continue to rise and look forward to helping make the move easier and more successful for thousands more newcomers in 2010 and beyond.”
At the welcome ceremony, Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom announced a new joint government initiative with Nefesh B’Nefesh to encourage aliyah to Israel’s periphery. As part of the initiative, the Ministry of the Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption will provide increased support for olim who move to the North and South of the country as of 2010.
Meeting Israeli singlesThe new immigrants were also greeted by Nathan Jacobson, who was recently appointed the Canadian chair of Nefesh B’Nefesh and generously sponsored the charter flight. Mr. Jacobson is a well known international businessman involved in various multinational companies and is heavily involved with multiple Jewish and Israeli philanthropies around the world.
Among the 210 olim on the flight were 81 singles, who are among over 950 singles who have made aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh this year. In response to the overwhelming reaction among Israelis to the arrival of so many single western olim this past summer, Nefesh B’Nefesh has teamed up with popular Jewish dating site JDate Israel to create a portal for its olim to meet Israeli singles.
Hundreds of family members, friends and Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben-Gurion airport to welcome the country’s newest olim at the festive arrival ceremony. Those present included: Vice Prime Minister Shalom; Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky; Senior Deputy Head of the Division for Promotion of Aliyah at the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption Shifra Kirshenbaum; Nefesh B’Nefesh Canadian Chair Nathan Jacobson; Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Erez Halfon; and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.