“I thought about it for 50 years, and now life will be as is it supposed to be. I came alone,” said Elaine from New Jersey explained who left her children and grandchildren in the US. “My parents survived the Holocaust and went to the US and now, finally, I am in Israel.”
Upon arrival in the country, the immigrants were greeted with welcoming expressions ranging from signs bearing the words ‘Welcome Home’ to shofar blasts as part of the official ceremony held in Ben Gurion Airport.
“We came to greet them and salute them. It is so important that they make Aliyah. I did it a few years ago and I am so proud,” said Lindsey, who came all the way from Jerusalem with her friends to welcome the newcomers.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky praised the Olim for taking the step emphasizing that Israel continues to be a warm home for Jews all around the world:
"The people from the US who come here do not come here because they are in distress, but because of their enthusiasm to be part of the national project of the Jewish people. We must ensure that the State of Israel continues to be a place in which every Jew feels at home, and a place which excites the imagination of Jews and strengthens their identity and security,” he said.
Caroline Mendelson who immigrated to Israel from Washington DC said, “I am celebrating today my 25th birthday and this is the first time as an Israeli citizen. I am extremely excited. I was in Israel many times and I have no doubt that I made the right decision.”
Steven from Los Angeles explained how the security situation in Israel did not deter him in the slightest from reaching his decision: “I am not scared at all. In LA the situation is the same but as a result of crime. It was hard to leave everything but I fell in love with Israel and I am very happy to come and live here and start studying in Herzliya,” he explained.
The Olim, of whom 103 are children, will spread throughout the country in their new homes from Be’er Sheva to Jerusalem to Haifa. Immigrating to Israel for Zionist and ideological reasons, the Olim join almost 2,000 more immigrants who made the move this summer.
Minister of Immigrant Absorption, MK Sofa Landver greeted the new Olim offering her own words which she hoped would accompany them throughout their journey: “I welcome all of you in my name and in the name of the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. Over the last few years the ministry has made significant investments in Aliyah and we see a wonderful increase from North America which strengthens Israel economically and nationally.”
She went on to say, “Especially in times like these, when worldwide terror rears its head, it cannot be taken for granted that a person decides to leave his home and settle in a new home. But as Jews, “she continued,” we know that we have a warm home which waits for us - the state of Israel.”
Chairman of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Dani Atar also addressed the newcomers at the ceremony: “The move to Israel is the base on which Zionism stands, it is the strongest expression of love for Israel. The strategic cooperation between the JNF and Nefesh B’Nefesh is designed to help as much as possible people from the diaspora to find their way in the State of Israel, to establish their homes, to integrate into the Israeli way of life and to contribute to the flourishing of the state each in his own way.”