This summer’s second charter aliyah flight from the US arrived on Tuesday, bringing some 350 new olim to Israel - including 127 young men and women who will be joining the IDF. The special Nefesh B’Nefesh – FIDF flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish National Fund and Tzofim Garin Tzabar. The newcomers are among over 4,800 American, Canadian and British Jews making aliyah this year.
"Each of the 350 people that made aliyah today have decided to link their personal future with the future of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. But the new IDF soldiers have also decided to defend the Jewish future – a privilege that wasn’t accorded to previous generations of Jews. We are proud of you," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the special ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport.
The arrival of a record 127 new IDF soldiers comes on the heels of the IDF charging the Friends of the IDF (FIDF) and Nefesh B’Nefesh to expand their existing partnership, which provides comprehensive support for lone soldiers, internationally. The program offers assistance before and during army service as well as with post-army acclimation into Israeli life.
As part of this program, lone soldiers will receive financial aid, emotional support, quarterly care packages and adoptive families. The program also offers guidance to parents of lone soldiers. Upon being discharged from the army, lone soldiers will receive assistance with career counseling, job placements, education, economic guidance and post-army integrative services.
There are currently over 2,700 lone soldiers from around the world serving in the IDF - over 900 from North America, 625 from Russia, 390 from Ukraine and 250 from France.
FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon said "the State of Israel and the IDF exist to ensure the safety of all Jews around the world and, therefore, the IDF can and should be the melting pot of the Jewish people. The volunteer soldiers who come from all over the world serve as role models, exemplifying the notion that our strength is in our unity. We hope to multiply the number of volunteers who make aliyah and serve in the IDF."
Co-founder and chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart, added: "This exciting new initiative will greatly benefit all the brave young men and women who choose to come to Israel and help protect the country."
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said it was "tremendously moving for me to see the hundreds of olim disembarking from the plane, bringing generations of physical disconnect from the Land of Israel to a close. Each and every oleh strengthens Israel."
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