One of them, Aaron Karas, was quoted as saying "I gave up on the easy life to join the IDF. I want to be part of Israeli society and defend my homeland."
Karas decided to move to Israel in order to join an IDF combat unit. He has a degree in biology and worked in Chicago. According to him "my dream now is to find an Israeli girl and start a family."
Rebecca Glanzer, 22, recently graduated from Columbia University with a degree in economics and is hoping to serve in the IDF’s Artillery Brigade. "I have been looking forward to making Aliyah and serving as a Lone Soldier in the IDF for so many years, and it is so crazy to me that this dream I had in high school is finally being realized,” said Glanzer. “What drew me to Israel was the community and sense of belonging that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Being the 50,000th person to make Aliyah with Nefesh B'Nefesh only affirms for me that I am part of something bigger, joining the thousands of people who took the opportunity to live a more meaningful and more Jewish life in Israel. I can't believe it's finally happening!"
Of the 75 soon-to-be soldiers, over half are young women. The flight’s additional passengers include a diverse mix of people from 22 US states and one Canadian province, including 24 families, 78 children and 10 medical professionals. The ages of the immigrants range from 3.5 weeks to 85 years old.
President Reuven Rivlin was there to greet the new immigrants. At a special ceremony after the plane landed, he said “This is such an honor for me to join you at this special moment. The moment you have all come home. You are no longer Jews in exile, you are now all Israelis. Each of you, young and old, men and women, have fulfilled the dream of 2000 years, you have made Aliyah,” said
“I know the decision to make Aliyah is not easy," he continued, "leaving behind family and friends, looking for work, starting in new schools, learning a new language. There are challenges ahead but we are all here to support you and help you build your new home.”
“The State of Israel salutes the young people who chose to leave their comfortable lives in North America in order to make the greatest contribution to the country's national security and its people,” said Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver. “I congratulate them and the other Olim who make Aliyah as a result of the cooperation between the Ministry and our partner in Aliyah, Nefesh B’Nefesh. I'm confident, and I promise, that the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption will accompany these Olim and take care of them throughout their entire integration process.”
A ceremony was held at JFK International Airport right before takeoff, where Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan (Bayit Yehudi), himself an oleh from Argentina, spoke.
"You are the largest defeat to BDS… you are taking part in the miracle of the return to Zion."