On Tuesday the country of Israel will be more populous – 338 people more populous – as a full to capacity jumbo jet will arrive in Israel filled with new immigrants from across North America.
Despite current security tensions in Israel, and flight warnings from the US, the new immigrants are choosing to make Israel their home. The special flight is being organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, Keren Kayemeth La’Yisrael, in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel, JNF-USA and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.
This summer, which, militarily, in Israel has been the most tense since 2006, has also seen a significant amount of immigrants from western countries such as the US, Canada and France. Over 900 immigrants have arrived from those three countries since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, which began over a month ago.
Included in the current group of Immigrants will be 108 inspiring young men and women who will be leading by example and will be joining the ranks of the IDF shortly after immigrating. The remainder of the flight will include 37 families, 107 children, and 65 immigrants who will be moving to Israel’s periphery so as to help the communities there.
Numerous Israeli dignitaries will be on hand to greet Israel’s newest citizens, including; Israel’s new President Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar, Chairman of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky as well as others.
In honor of their immigration, Randy Levine, President of the New York Yankees baseball club, and his wife Mindy hosted 40 of the young men and women who will be inducted into the IDF at a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Many of these future soldiers will be classified as ‘lone soldiers’ in Israel, having no parents living in Israel.
The IDF currently has 2,800 Lone Soldiers serving in a range of positions in the army. The organization of Nefesh B’Nefesh runs a lone soldier program whose purpose is to provide an holistic service package for young men and women who make Aliyah and are required to serve in the IDF.
“I want to thank Randy and Mindy Levine for their exceptional hospitality and the unforgettable experience they gave to the young immigrants, just before they departure for Israel,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.
A recent immigrant who arrived last month through Nefesh B’Nefesh, Ilana Barta, stepped off the plane wedding dress in hand as her fiance, an IDF combat soldier, fought in Gaza. Barta, who is getting married next week, told Breaking Israel News some of the reasoning behind her decision to move to Israel despite the time of turmoil.
“My acclimation has so far been good. Coming to Israel has been fine, and while I haven’t dealt with all of the bureaucracies just yet I don’t forsee a problem,” she said.
When asked why she chose to come Barta explained, “I’ve always felt Israeli and now thatI am Israeli it’s a great place to be. I’m very familiar with Israel, so now I’m just making it official.”
Barta said that she was determined to make Israel her home and that the conflict was not going to stand in her way. “I’ve always wanted to come, conflict or not, this date has been set for months, and it is such a relief to know that on such-and-such a date this is when I am coming. Every step to get here has been full of excitement, as I have been waiting for so many years to arrive.”
The solidarity which Barta shows with Israel is not something new to her either, but something she felt even back home in the U.S. “Whenever something happens in Israel and I am in America, I feel very disconnected. I want to be here with the land and the people so much, so that we can all go through it together. Knowing that I am doing my part is very important.”
Barta will be attending medical school and will becoming a doctor fulfilling a life-long dream and hopes to be able to give back to the people and the country here.
Barta is also very excited as she will be getting married next week, and her family is arriving to help her with the final preparations and to walk her down the aisle. “I really feel that I am fulfilling prophecy by doing this now and in Israel. My family is coming from all over the world for the wedding so we have the ingathering of exiles, and a wedding so we are fulfilling the prophecy from Jeremiah as well;
‘Thus says the Lord: In this place there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride’ (Jeremiah 33:10-11).
“It is very meaningful to me to be able to bring happiness and joy to Israel in this difficult time,” she said.