Throughout the summer, Nefesh B’Nefesh will be facilitating a total of 16 group aliyah flights, with designated blocks of seats reserved for its olim on commercial flights to Israel. Two of these flights, arriving this week, will have 78 future Lone Soldiers aboard, which is being coordinated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA, and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
The future Lone Soldiers — those volunteering to serve in the IDF without immediate family living in Israel — will join 3,500 Lone Soldiers from around the world under the Nefesh B’Nefesh-Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program. These young men and women, once they become Israeli citizens, enlist in the IDF as required of all Israelis at the age of 18. The majority of those on these flights hail from California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Once enlisted, these olim become part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program which cares for thousands of olim soldiers from around the world currently in active service. This program, with the full support of the IDF, offers guidance, support, and care for all Lone Soldier olim during each stage of their service, after release from the army, and during the adjustment stages to civilian life.
“These young men and women who chose to make aliyah from North America and will enlist in the IDF to serve in the front lines of Israel’s defense and security are our people’s greatest pride, said Minister of Aliyah and Integration, MK Pnina Tamano-Shata. “We support and assist Lone Soldiers that made aliyah through a variety of meaningful programs, and I intend to further expand their rights and benefits. Along with the citizens of Israel, I salute them as an inspiration to us all. Under my leadership, the Ministry will continue to comprehensively assist the new olim, especially during these times, as the challenges facing olim have increased. I would like to thank Nefesh B’Nefesh for its extensive support and cooperation in promoting aliyah from North America.”
“During the best of times, it takes a tremendous amount of courage for these young men and women to pick up their lives, leave their families abroad, and volunteer to serve in the IDF,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Now, despite all odds, the future Lone Soldiers who arrived on these flights are once again proving that nothing will stand in the way of those individuals who are looking to fulfill their Zionist dreams.”
“Military service in the IDF is difficult and challenging for every soldier, and even more so for Lone Soldiers. Their decision to come to Israel and enlist in the IDF is a brave and noble act, one that is rooted in a deep sense of mission, determination, and love of the State of Israel. This is true Zionism,” said Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, FIDF national director and CEO. “The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces will continue to stand by their side and provide them with educational, cultural, recreational, and financial support during and after their military service, out of profound appreciation and respect for their contribution, and to ensure that although they are far from home, they never feel alone.”
“These young women and men are an inspiration to the entire Jewish people,” said Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel. “Being a Lone Soldier comes with its own challenges, and for this reason we at The Jewish Agency will make every effort to support these young people as they build their new lives in Israel.”
“I decided to make aliyah after I visited twice and fell in love with Israel,” said new olah and future IDF soldier, Naomi Jaffe, 18, from Boulder, Colorado. “I have wanted to challenge myself and be part of Israel’s society, and I thought the best way to do it is to make aliyah after high school and join the IDF. I want to be part of something bigger than myself and live in a place where I feel is meaningful for me.”
This flight arrives amidst a record-high interest in aliyah. Since the beginning of April 2020, 3,495 aliyah applications were submitted to the organization, in comparison to 1,373 over the same time period in 2019, signaling a 155% increase in aliyah interest.
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical, and social obstacles of aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 60,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90% of its olim have remained in Israel.
FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501© (3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 24 chapters throughout the United States and Panama.
With the full support of the IDF, the Nefesh B’Nefesh–Friends of the IDF (FIDF) Lone Soldiers Program was established in 2012, in order to assist and support the brave young men and women who choose to serve in the IDF, regardless of their country of origin.