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JNF Wire: Coming Home to Israel

July 17, 2015
Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
212-879-9305 x222
Personal Stories of Aliyah from July’s Nefesh B'Nefesh Flight
By: Megan E. Turner
      Nefesh 2015 Pic2.jpg

Some of the new olim who arrived on the Nefesh B’ Nefesh flight on Tuesday, July 14.

The air was electric with excitement at Ben Gurion International Airport in spite of the early hour on Tuesday morning. Throngs of people filtered into Terminal 1, the original terminal of the airport, to welcome the 221 new immigrants from North America arriving on a flight chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh. A group of teenage girls raucously sang religious and patriotic songs while keeping a frantic beat on a darbuka, infectiously drawing others in the crowd into their celebration. Members of Knesset wove through the crowd, hurrying to take their seats on the tarmac in order to formally welcome these new Israelis. And Israeli soldiers from many different units came to salute their new brethren.

As the energy mounted, the first immigrants trickled in, and guests waved signs that read, "Welcome Home!" Lots of people hugged, some cried and kissed the ground, and others slowly looked around, taking in this massive celebration all in their honor.

This was Nefesh B'Nefesh's 53rd flight bringing new immigrants to Israel and assisting them through the entire immigration process. Their partnership with Jewish National Fund (JNF) helps to turn people's dreams of immigration to Israel into reality. 

Moshe Sabach was one of those taking his time to take it all in. "I'm coming as a lone soldier," he answered in Hebrew, revealing that he is a returning resident; his parents left Israel when he was a small child. "I went backpacking in India for six months after high school, and I really identified with the spirit of the other Israelis I met," Sabach said when asked why he had chosen to return. "I came back home." He will be starting his life here at Kibbutz Zara and will be drafted to the Israeli Defense Forces in the coming months.

Nefesh 2015 Pic 3.jpgAs Sabach slipped off to find his Israeli girlfriend, a toddler zoomed by in a t-shirt that read, "My Future's Bright in Israel." Ya'arah Pardes was one of 95 children to immigrate and one of the youngest at 14 months old. She and her parents, Gahl and Zvi, came to Israel from Calgary, Canada and were on their way to Israel's south in Be'er Sheva, excited about the desert heat. 

"We're used to winters in Canada, so this will be a nice change," Zvi said before departing to say his morning prayers for the first time as an Israeli. Gahl added, "We're leaving behind our parents, siblings and their families, certainty for uncertainty, but I think it's worth it." 

She and Zvi firmly believe in the community which they chose after having spent some time there about a year and a half ago. "At that time I was pregnant, and we knew that this is where we wanted to raise our daughter," speaking of Israel as a whole and specifically of their Be'er Sheva community. 

Nefesh 2015 Pic 1.jpgJNF CEO Russell F. Robinson took a break from greeting the new arrivals to talk about the message that these new Israelis would be sending to the world: "Victory; that our Jewish people are coming home." He reinforced the point that now, as Jews, they are allowed to come to Israel, to come home because they want to. "It's no longer the land of the exiles,” he said, "it's the land of choice."

One of the oldest immigrants to arrive was Sue Freeman, the grandmother of Knesset member, Rachel Azaria. Azaria addressed the crowd about the strength she gets from her family and that she, too, comes from a family of new immigrants. She beamed when she invited her grandmother to the stage to present her with her new immigrant ID: "I never imagined this moment would come, being a member of parliament, giving the ID to my 90-year old grandmother, she was always my American grandmother." 

Freeman corrected her, saying that she was now her Israeli grandmother, as the crowd cheered.

Azriel and Ariela Deror, looking refreshed and smiling proudly, said of their immigration, "We were all ready, even the kids," referring to their four boys and one girl. Their oldest, Kalev, will be drafted into the elite Givati unit of the Israeli Defense Forces in March."

Putting on the uniform for the first time will be a really special moment for me," Kalev said, and his parents agreed, saying, "It's an honor that he will be defending our country." 

Just before being whisked into the loving arms of friends welcoming them home, they said that the day after will be interesting for them: "I'll have to pinch myself to understand that we're really here," Azriel said reflecting the pride and love he feels for his new country.

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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