The Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight, carrying 221 new immigrants to Israel this month, included 15 Maryland natives that will now call Israel home.
Aaron May, 38, his wife, Rena, 39 and their children, Hadassah, Ariella and Leora, and also siblings Hilla and Yaniv Singerman are all from Baltimore. Dovev and Shayna Hefetz and their children Rena, Nili and Moshe are from Silver Spring. Sara Yitzhaky, 24, is from Potomac, Gabriel Samson, 32, is from Bethesda, and Yuval Luger, 17, is moving from Rockville. Other new immigrants moved from 14 states, the District of Columbia and four Canadian provinces.
“The Jewish people were massacred and expelled from other countries for thousands of years,” said Sara Yitzhaky, who will live in Jerusalem. “We now have a home where we can rejoice, unite and practice our religion freely, and I am proud to be making aliyah and to become a citizen of the Jewish homeland.”
Thirty-two families, including 95 children and 53 singles — 12 of whom will join the Israel Defense Forces — were on board. Some of the new immigrants will move to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael’s Go North and Go South programs.
The flight was facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.
Two-thousand new immigrants will arrive in Israel this summer, and an estimated 4,000 newcomers from North America are expected in 2015. Since 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh, together with its partners, has assisted 45,000 people to make aliyah to Israel from the U.S., Canada and England. Approximately 90 percent of those have remained in Israel.
“The hundreds of new olim on today’s flight, and the thousands who will be joining them over the course of this year, are the modern-day pioneers helping to build and secure the future of the State of Israel,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder and executive director Rabbi Yehoshua Fass. “[They] are fulfilling their dreams and the hopes of our nation, by returning to the Jewish homeland.”