Goodbye America, Hello Israel: 233 New Immigrants Arrive in the Land In Israel
Ben Gurion Airport (TPS) – An overflow crowd greeted 233 new immigrants who arrived in Israel Wednesday morning, including the 50,000th immigrant brought to Israel by Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization which promotes immigration to Israel, or Aliyah.
The new citizens were greeted by President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Minister of Absorption Sofia Landver, Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Nefesh B’Nefesh Co-Chairmen Tony Gelbart and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, and Jewish Agency Director Natan Sharansky.
President Rivlin praised the new immigrants, or Olim, at a festive greeting ceremony held at the airport. “I am happy to be part of this special and exciting moment, the moment when you are marking the transfer from the exile to the Land of Israel, from the Diaspora to home,” he exclaimed.
“It is such an honor to be here at this moment, the moment you come home,” Rivlin continued. “You are no longer Jews in exile—you are Israelis.”
The new immigrants range from a three-week-old baby to an 85-year-old man and include 24 families. They originate from 22 different states and one Canadian province.
The flight also brought 75 future lone soldiers, or young people who left their families in the US and Canada to move to Israel and volunteer for the Israeli Defense Forces. They will join the more than 900 lone soldiers from the US and the 3,000 lone soldiers from around the world who are currently serving in the IDF.
Amit Fogel ,17, from New Jersey is one of the soon-to-be lone soldiers who decided to move to Israel without her family in an effort to contribute to the State of Israel. “I have always been a Zionist and I decided to move here to join the army and to strengthen Israel,” she contended. “Nefesh B’Nefesh has been amazing with that. They have helped me with everything and I was able to turn to them with any problem that I had.”
Fogel will live in Kibbutz Afikim, a community which participates in a program that hosts lone soldiers.
“The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin is proud to welcome these new immigrants soon to be drafting as lone soldiers,” declared Ari Kalker, a senior staff member at the Lone Soldier Center. “We welcome them into the lone-soldier family and are honored and excited to support them throughout their IDF service.”
The State of Israel places a high priority on Aliyah and offers a variety of services for newolim, such as free college tuition and tax breaks. The government recently declared a new national holiday called “Aliyah Day” that is designed to celebrate those who have immigrated to Israel.