An El Al Boeing 777 chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh departed New York’s JFK International Airport on Monday carrying 232 olim (new immigrants) from the U.S. and Canada who will begin new lives in Israel. The flight was facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA, and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
Fifty-nine of the inspiring young men and women on board will volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces in the coming months as “lone soldiers,” young people who left behind their homes, families, and friends. They will join the 850 lone soldiers from the U.S. and the 2,800 lone soldiers from around the world who are currently serving in the IDF. Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with Friends of the IDF, cares for thousands of lone soldiers serving in the IDF through the Lone Soldiers Program, which offers guidance and support for all lone-soldier immigrants during each stage of their service: pre-immigration, pre-recruitment, active military service, after release from the army, and during adjustment to civilian life.
The passengers on this special flight included 29 families with their 75 children as well as 9 couples and 86 singles. Among those making aliyah today and later volunteering for the IDF are Maya Allon, 17, and Matan Bocarsly, 22, of Yonkers; Samuel Cohen, 19, of Woodmere; Ella Dahan, 19, of Long Beach; Ron Pesahovitz, 21, of Oceanside; Adina Fadis, 21, of Swan Lake; Yuval Hadari, 17, of Harrison; Noa Heller, 18, of Chestnut Ridge; Menachem Friedman, 19, of Suffern; Zoe Vatash, 18, of Sag Harbor; Elizabeth Kantarowitz, 18, of Brooklyn; and Kevin Schechter, 23, Sheina Tolmas, 23, Aron Wander, 22, and Yonatan Broome, 20, all of New York City.
Monday’s planeload of olim is the second of two charters, which, along with six group aliyah flights and olim arriving independently on a daily basis, will bring over 2,000 olim making aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer. An estimated 4,000 newcomers from North America are expected in 2015. Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with its partners, has brought 45,000 olim to Israel from the U.S., Canada, and England.
“These brave young men and women who chose to leave the comfort of their homes and join the thousands of soldiers already serving in the army are a tremendous source of pride for us and for the people of Israel,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “It is truly inspiring to see that Jews everywhere, young and old, and from all denominations, are determined to fulfill the dream of building the Jewish State and strengthening the Jewish nation.”
Friends and family saw the olim off at a departure ceremony at JFK Airport.
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh (www.nbn.org.il) 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 almost 45,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90% of its olim have remained in Israel.