The first of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s two summer charter flights took 218 North American olim home to Israel on Monday, including at least two dozen from Long Island.
Together with nine group aliyah flights and olim arriving independently on a daily basis, 2,000 olim will make aliyah with NBN’s assistance this summer, bringing to nearly 50,000 the number of olim brought to Israel by NBN since the group was founded in 2002.
The youngest oleh on this week’s flight was only four months old and the oldest 71. Passengers came from 17 states and two Canadian provinces and included five sets of twins. Seventy-six New Yorkers were onboard.
Marissa Young of West Hempstead, 21, a recent graduate of Columbia University who attended the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, was making aliyah on her own and looking forward to serving in the IDF.
Of her parents, who along with her grandparents from Great Neck accompanied her to JFK, she said, “I hope they’ll come to visit, and maybe one day they’ll come to join me.”
Ben and Miriam Casper of Woodmere were making aliyah with their children, ages 9, 6, 3 and 1.
“We have been very fortunate to go [to Israel] almost every year, and every time we go with our children we love it more and more,” Ben said. “We felt if not now, it would be another 25 years.”
In addition to Young and the Caspers, Long Islanders on Monday’s Flight 777 included 24-year-old Yocheved Kolchin, the Benishtys of Hewlett, the Leffels of Cedarhurst, the Katzes of Woodmere and, from Flushing, the Suyonovs, Yushanayevas and Zanjirians.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, told the olim just before their mid-day flight that “today you are rising to a new level, you are rising to the holy land.”
“What you’re doing today is a real answer to those people who criticize Israel, to those people who support BDS,” he said. “Making aliyah is the real answer to all the enemies of the state of Israel.”