August 16th marked the biggest day of Western Aliyah in Israel’s history. Three countries were represented as planes arrived from JFK-NY, Toronto, and England in the first simultaneous landing of three NBN chartered Aliyah flights. This day also marked the first Nefesh B’Nefesh sponsored flight out of the UK.
In-flight VIP’s included Israel Ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, Chairman of UJC Bobby Goldberg, CEO of the JNF Russell Robinson, Head of Delegation of North America (JAFI) Meir Nitzan and JAFI Director General Moshe Vigdor among others. The presence and representation of these major Jewish entities served as a touching acknowledgement of their recognition and support for the importance of North American Aliyah.
As each plane pulled up to the hangar one after the next, the roar of the over capacity crowd was deafening. Chayalim (soldiers) flanked the new arrivals, colorful signs and balloons filled the air, hugs were shared freely, and tears of welcome flowed as friends and family greeted one another. Words of welcome were conveyed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jewish Agency Chairman Zev Bielski, Minister of Immigration and Absorption Zev Boim and founders of NBN.
From the Welcome Ceremony, the Olim continued to the old Terminal 1 to collect their luggage. Although there were a few more procedural formalities to complete, the festive atmosphere continued as the adults from the different flights introduced themselves while the children enjoyed an on-site magic show. Overall, it was a long and exhausting day, but at the end of it, over 520 Jews achieved their dream of Aliyah and had arrived home.
For more information about Aliyah visit www.nbn.org.il
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.