Hundreds of North American Jews Make Aliyah to Israel

Immigrants from the United States and Canada disembark from the first of two Israeli commercial airplanes arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv bringing close to 1,000 immigrating to Israel Wednesday July 9, 2003.

David Guttenfelder / AP Photo

Hundreds of Jewish U.S. and Canadian immigrants to Israel arrived in their new homeland last week, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. The group, organized by the organization Nefesh B’ Nefesh ("Soul to Soul"), comprised about 330 U.S. and Canadian Jews.

In New York on Tuesday, before her flight took off, Tali Berman said she was born in America but was flying home to Israel with her husband and 15-month-old daughter. “Now, as things are becoming more intense, it’s an important time to make a claim that the Jewish state has a right to exist,” she said.

Nefesh B’ Nefesh is sponsoring the moves of about 940 North American Jews this year, spokesman George Birnbaum said. About 300 are set to come July 22, with the rest in groups of 30 or so over the following six weeks. "In terms of immigrants moving en masse, there haven’t been these numbers in 25 or 30 years," Birnbaum said. The privately funded organization helped with 519 moves last year, aiding prospective immigrants with bureaucratic issues and providing financial assistance.

Prior to the immigrants’ arrival, Minister of Finance Benjamin Netanyahu said he was pleased they were moving to Israel without special government assistance. He described the importance of Aliyah, "particularly during this difficult time." About 2,040 North American Jews moved to Israel last year, and the numbers are up more than 20 percent this year, according to the Jewish Agency. "It’s the feeling of the community that this time Israel is really needing them," Michael Landsberg, executive director of the agency’s North American Aliyah movement, said.

Source: Israeli Consulate New York