Also on board the jubilee charter flight were 41 families, including 88 children. The passenger list also included 92 Olim moving to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs.
“These brave volunteers who leave their countries and come to Israel to serve in the IDF, the guardian of the Jewish people around the world, are pillars of pride and hope for us, Friends of the IDF (FIDF). We have made it our mission to serve as a family for all IDF Lone Soldiers,” said FIDF National Chairman Nily Falic, and FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon.
“It is remarkable that after 50 charter Aliyah flights, the excitement and emotion we experience on board the plane is as inspiring and heartwarming as the very first flight,”, said Co-Founder and Executive Director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “It is especially moving to see so many idealistic and brave young men and women on this special flight, volunteering to join the IDF and help protect this country.”
“The fact that young people are leaving their comfortable lives in the Diaspora in order to make Aliyah to Israel and volunteer in the IDF, teaches us a lot about our power as a nation and our sense of mutual responsibility which is the foundation of our lives here in Israel. All that’s left is for us to be proud and to guarantee that they receive all the support possible,” said Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver.
“The Zofim's Garin Tzabar is the organization's flagship program, helping strengthen the connection with the Diaspora and encouraging Aliyah to Israel, with the help of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and Nefesh B'Nefesh,” said Chairman of the Israel Scouts Eli Ben Yosef. “It warms the heart to see that every year we succeed in increasing the number of Olim, the number of countries, and most importantly that approximately 70% of Olim who come through the Garin Tzabar program remain in Israel at the end of their army service.”
“The Jewish Agency, which brings tens of thousands of Olim to Israel from across the globe sees Nefesh B’Nefesh as a dedicated partner in this important work, said Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky. “These youngsters who made Aliyah from North Americans are the future of Israel. Each of them is an inspiration to us and another chain in the link to strengthen Israeli society.”
“Settling the Negev and the Galil, together with sustainable development and forestation are top priorities for the Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel,” said World Chairman of KKL-JNF, Efi Stenzler. These passionate and unique new Olim who arrived today and who are moving to Israel's periphery – especially those volunteering to serve in the IDF - exemplify modern day Zionism and are helping to realize Keren Kayemeth Le'Israel's vision.”
There are currently over 2,800 Lone Soldiers from around the world serving in the IDF – including over 900 from North America, 900 from Russian speaking countries, 250 from France and 200 from Latin America countries. The FIDF/Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program, in collaboration with The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Tzofim – Garin Tzabar program assists newly arrived soldiers with their transition into their new lives in Israel and national service, by offering guidance, social and emotional support, quarterly care packages, adoptive families and financial aid, as well as assistance to parents of Lone Soldiers abroad in the form of information and support. A new service recently added to the Lone Soldier Program is an annual free flight back to their country of origin to visit their parents.
Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben Gurion Airport to welcome the country’s newest citizens at the arrival ceremony. Those present included: Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa’ar; Director-General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption Oded Forer; Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Penina Tamanu-Shata; Head of the Personnel Directorate of the IDF manpower, Major General Orna Barbivay; Executive Director of the Israel office of the FIDF Col. (Res) Atar Dagan; World Chairman of KKL-JNF, Efi Stenzler; Director of Aliyah, Absorption and Special Operations Unit of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Yehuda Sharf; Chairman of the Israel Scouts Eli Ben Yosef; Chairman of Bank Hapoalim, Yair Saroussi; Vice President Global Sales of El Al, Offer Gat; Former Oleh and Israeli Leading Artist and Performer, Rami Kleinstein; Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Erez Halfon and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.