A Nefesh B'Nefesh flight carrying some 400 new immigrants from North America will land in Israel on Tuesday with an unprecedented number of young adults – 60 boys and 44 girls aged 18-22, who are making aliyah in order to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, Yedioth Aharonoth reported on Thursday.
These young Jews are immigrating to Israel as part of a joint campaign launched by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization, the Jewish Agency, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), Garin Tzabar of the Friends of Israel Scouts and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.
Last year, 85 young men and women immigrated to Israel on the "recruit flight". In total, since Nefesh B'Nefesh was founded nine years ago, the organization has brought to Israel more than 1,500 young Jewish adults from North America, who joined the IDF immediately after their arrival.
The vast majority of soldiers on the immigrants' flight want to serve in combat units. The boys showed a high demand for voluntary elite units like Duvdevan, Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, the Paratrooper Brigade and the Air Force Flight Academy. Most girls want to be paramedics, non-commissioned education officers, shooting instructors or fighters in the canine special forces unit Oketz.
Nefesh B'Nefesh and FIDF initiated a unique program aimed at providing new immigrants from North America with a successful absorption in the military and in the State of Israel.
As part of the plan, throughout their military service the immigrants receive financial grants, social aid and food parcels every three months. Upon their release, they are offered personal professional guidance on study and career opportunities.
'Fulfilling a dream and defending our country'
"Serving in the IDF is the most efficient way for successful absorption in Israel," says Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh. "An unprecedented number of 450 young Jewish men and women from North America are expected to make aliyah in 2011 and join the IDF with the aim of linking their fate to the State and contributing to Israel's security.
"Each and every one of them is a source of pride and happiness for us, and a live reminder of the fact that Zionism is alive and kicking."
According to FIDF National Director Major-General (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, "The vision which led to the establishment of the Friends of the IDF organization in the United States 30 ago by a group of Holocaust survivors has strengthened over the year.
"There are tens of thousands of supporters in the US today whose life's work is caring for the soldiers defending the homeland and investing in the future of the entire Israeli society.
"The 104 young people will fly from the US to Israel and join the army in order to fulfill a dream and defend our country, and FIDF is proud to support them from the moment they get on the plane, through their military service, and until they join Israel's civilian society."
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