As his latest group of olim boarded an El Al Boeing 777 charter to Israel on Tuesday, Nefesh B’Nefesh co-founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass relished his organization’s remarkable achievement: With that flight, the 55th charter arranged by NBN since 2002, the group had sent 50,000 olim home.
But there’s plenty of work ahead.
“We’re just beginning,” he told The Jewish Star. “It’s just a drop in the bucket.”
When the plane carrying 233 olim arrived at Ben Gurion airport on Wedneday morning, Brooklyn native Rebecca Glanzer, 22, was identified as NBN’s 50,000th oleh. She was among 75 Lone Soldiers on the flight — 41 of them are young women — who plan to soon join the IDF.
Glanzer is a recent graduate of Columbia University with a degree in economics.
“It is so crazy to me that this dream I had in high school is finally being realized,” she said. “What drew me to Israel was the community and sense of belonging that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.” She hopes to serve in the IDF’s artillery brigade.
The flight included people from 22 U.S. states and one Canadian province, 24 families and 78 children, with an age range from 3-and-a-half weeks to 85 years.
Long Island families that were scheduled to made aliyah this week included the Fedelsteins of Great Neck, Meisels of Woodmere, Tenenbaums of West Hempstead, Samters of North Woodmere, and Leibowitzes of Flushing.
Young Long Islanders scheduled to make solo aliyah included Sylvia Azoulay, 21, of Merrick; Eliana Geller, 21, of Melville; Jessica Kane, 19, of Great Neck; Yakov Merkin, 25, of Forest Hills; Maya Neiman, 19, of Fresh Meadows; Gavriel Novick, 23, of West Hempstead; Michael Weiss, 21, of Roslyn Heights, and Yigal Weiss, 17, of Great Neck.
“While the rest of the world has to wait 3 [more] days to hear nachamu, we are seeing those words come to life before our eyes,” Rabbi Fass told the olim at Ben Gurion.
NBN co-founder Tony Gelbart told the crowd that “a lot of numbers” are being spoken about, but “the number one” is important.
“Every one of you have your own reason you made aliyah and you will each contribute to the state of Israel in your own way,” he said. “No matter where you came from, you are part of am echad-- — the Jewish people.”