232 new immigrants to Israel from the US and Canada landed Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in the latest North American wave of aliyah. Included among the inspirational Zionists are 59 young adults who are leaving their families and friends behind in order to enlist in the IDF and protect their brand-new homeland.
The new lone soldiers – IDF recruits who immigrate from outside Israel and usually have no family in the country – will join 3,650 lone soldiers from around the world who currently serve in the IDF. According to the IDF, the number of active lone soldiers is an almost 22 percent rise since last year from an estimated 3,000 lone soldiers.
The Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah organization, which has facilitated the immigration process for tens of thousands of Jews since 2002, sponsored the group flight for the new immigrants, together with partnering organizations and facilitators including Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel, JNF-USA, and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.
The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization has programs in place catering to the special needs of the thousands of lone soldiers serving in the IDF through the Lone Soldiers Program, which offers guidance and support for all lone soldiers during each stage of their service: pre-immigration, pre-recruitment, during active military service, after release from the army, and during adjustment to civilian life.
In addition to the rise in the amount of lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF, the amount of North American immigrants has also gone up across the board. Tuesday’s flight included 29 families with their 75 children as well as nine couples and 86 singles.
According to statistics provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the support and social services that the organization provides to its almost 45,000 newcomers has ensured that over 90 percent of those it has helped have remained in Israel.
The Jewish Federations that partner with the Jewish Agency for Israel to bring in olim (“immigrants”) from countries outside of North America have also reported a dramatic rise in immigration to Israel this year. The first half of 2015 saw a 41 percent increase in total immigration over the numbers corresponding to the same time period in 2015.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency and noted Israel advocate Natan Sharansky has said that the continuing increase in immigration to Israel proves that Israel is a desireable place to live.
“This trend is evidence of Israel’s attractiveness as a place where it’s good to live, as well as of the success of our joint efforts to promote aliyah and strengthen connections between Jews around the world and the State of Israel,” he said.