TEL AVIV, Aug. 15, 2018 – The second Nefesh B’Nefesh Aliyah charter flight of the summer brought an array of experienced and emerging leaders to Israel, including 57 future Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lone Soldiers, 27 medical professionals, and 13 Jewish community professionals. This specially chartered flight was generously sponsored by Denver, Colorado local, Heidi Rothberg in coordination with Jewish National Fund USA and was facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL), JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
The new Olim come from 24 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, and include 30 families, 90 children, and three sets of twins. The future Lone Soldiers—those volunteering to serve in the IDF without immediate family living in Israel—will join the close to 1,000 Lone Soldiers from North America, and the close to 4,000 Lone Soldiers from around the world.
The arrival ceremony was held at Terminal #4 in Ben Gurion Airport, an area built for the Pope's arrival in the 1990's. Special buses brought guests, who left their homes before dawn, to the site, from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the El Al plane which landed at 7:00 am.
Minister of Aliyah and Integration, Sofa Landver spoke in Hebrew, “On behalf of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and myself, I would like to congratulate the new Olim on their decision to make Aliyah and become a part of our family, here in the Jewish homeland. North American Aliyah both strengthens Israel’s economy and boosts the country’s national pride. In recent years, our Ministry has invested heavily in encouraging Aliyah and creating projects to assist in the absorption process. We are ensuring that the integration into Israeli society will be as quick and easy as possible, with every Oleh receiving a warm, personal welcome.”
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, MK Dr. Michael Oren added, “As a representative of the Government of Israel, it is with much honor to take part in this glorious event. Aliyah represents the essence of Zionist vision in which our State was founded. And as a former Oleh from North America, I know how special Aliyah is, motivated not by oppression or economic strife but solely by love of the Land of Israel. Finally, as one who served as a Lone Solider, I want to express my deepest appreciation for your dedication and courage. In the name of our Government and State, I wish you the warmest welcome and mazal tov on the best decision you've ever made.”
“A hundred years ago Jewish immigration to Israel was non-existent and 75 years ago we were called illegal immigrants,” said Ron Werner, a national board member of Jewish National Fund-USA who traveled to Israel on the Aliyah flight with 239 new olim. “Today, any Jew may freely and safely travel to the land of Israel.”
"From the earliest days of the Jewish State, courageous young men and women have made Aliyah in order to preserve what was once a distant dream for their parents and grandparents," explained Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. "Now, 70 years later, the young men and women who arrived this morning as future Lone Soldiers, are driven by the same principles and continue in the spirit of voluntary service - the desire to build and protect our homeland.”
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included, Yehuda Scharf, Director of the Aliyah, Absorption and Special Operations Department of the Jewish Agency; Yoram Elgrabli, Managing Director of EL AL North America; MK Dr. Anat Berko; MK Nurit Koren; and Co-Founder of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart.
Olim from Baltimore included the Lefkowitz and Reiner famlies. Also with Maryland connections the Himmelfarbs and Wildmans.