Itongadol.- The 221 olim arrived on a special charter flight organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency.
221 North Americans arrive in Israel
On board were 32 families, including 95 children. They were greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Minister of Immigrant Absorption MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), fellow Likud minister Gila Gamliel, Kulanu MK Rachel Azaria, and other officials.
Azaria, whose 90-year-old grandmother was among those on the flight, hailed the new arrivals for “joining the Zionist dream” along with Israel’s millions of Israeli Jews.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, who met with the immigrants shortly before their departure, said their decision to move to Israel was the best response to efforts to delegitimize Israel, and a source of inspiration. He said the lone soldiers in the group should know that they are not alone, and that all of Israel is their family.
Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Doreet Freedman said the organization laid particular stress on helping new arrivals negotiate Israeli bureaucracy and find employment, which was why the rate of immigrants subsequently returning to their countries of origin had been decreasing. Later this week, the new arrivals will be gathering for meetings with representatives of banks, health funds, phone companies and other institutions to ease their immigration process.
Some 4,000 immigrants from North America will arrive in Israel this year, half of them over the summer months.
Immigration from France, Russia and Ukraine is also expected to increase this year.
According to the Jewish Agency, around 3,000 French Jews are expected to make aliyah — the Hebrew term for immigration to Israel — this summer, many young families among them.
Israeli officials, including Elkin, have called on French Jews to immigrate to Israel in light of the rise of anti-Semitism in France and a string of horrific terror attack in recent months, including the assault on a kosher deli in January in which four Jewish men were killed.
In 2015, as of June 1 some 5,904 people immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. Only 3,698 people had done so by the same point in 2014, representing a 59.64 percent increase, according to figures from the Immigration Absorption Ministry released in June.
The figures from Ukraine were even more dramatic, especially compared to the years before the fighting. So far this year 2,990 Ukrainians have moved to Israel; just 1,614 did so between January and May 2014, representing an 85.25% jump from the former Soviet republic.