232 olim from North America – including 59 lone soldiers – arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport on Nefesh B’Nefesh flight.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a planeload of 232 immigrants from North America on Tuesday that he is proud of them for leaving behind the creature comforts of their previous homes to become a part of the Jewish state.
The immigrants arrived aboard a Nefesh B’Nefesh aliya charter flight. They included 29 families with their 75 children as well as nine couples and 86 singles, including 59 who will be joining the IDF as lone soldiers, without close relatives in Israel.
“This land is your land,” Netanyahu told the immigrants in a videotaped message. “You have exercised your right to become active participants in Jewish history, making Israel stronger and yourselves stronger.
Your success is our success.”
Construction Minister Yoav Galant, the representative of the government at the ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, spoke of the difficulties his mother, Fruma, had to overcome to move to Israel on the legendary ship Exodus. He expressed hope that the immigrants would similarly overcome challenges and integrate successfully.
“Think about your fathers, grandfathers and the past 14 generations who hoped and prayed to come next year to Jerusalem,” Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky told the crowd. “You did it. You are part of history.”
Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post at the event that although he had greeted countless immigrants, he was still touched by every each planeload that comes.
“Every immigrant who arrives completes a 2,000-yearold journey,” he said. “Here we have the completion of 232 2000-year-old journeys, so it’s extra special.”
The flight was facilitated in cooperation with Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
The new group of lone soldiers will join 850 others from the US, and 2,800 lone soldiers from around the world.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Friends of the IDF, cares for thousands of them through the Lone Soldiers Program, which offers guidance, and support during each stage of their service: pre-immigration, pre-recruitment, active military service, after release from the army, and during adjustment to civilian life.
Nir Zaslavsky, 18, made aliya from Deerfield, Illinois, returning home to where he was born and lived until age eight.
He will be living in Kibbutz Dvir until he enters the IDF. He said his parents were proud of him, even though it was tough for them to see him go.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s happening.”
Tzofim (Scouts) movement secretary-general Gal Ben-Shimol said it was important that immigrants like Zaslavsky be given a support system to help them over the course of their army service.
The emotional highlight of the event came when Nefesh B’Nefesh founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass read an essay from Adina Karpoch, 19, from Atlanta, one of the lone soldiers who said she was inspired to make aliya by singer Idan Raichel’s music. Fass then invited Raichel to sing with his band to the immigrants.
Raichel told the crowd that although he was only committed to sing a couple songs, he would sing more because he was so proud of the new Israelis.