Israel’s army is getting a planeload of reinforcements from North America.
A group of 104 young men and women who will be joining the Israel Defense Forces in the coming months were aboard a 747 El Al charter flight to Israel that departed Monday from New York, a record for a single flight. The plane, sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the Jewish Agency and Friends of the IDF, is carrying a total of 360 North Americans who are moving to Israel.
The recruits are among the 132 singles on board the flight, many of whom are part of the Tzofim Garin Tzabar program, affiliated with Israel’s scout program. Founded 20 years ago, the program allows a group of soldiers from the Diaspora to experience their army service together as a social unit. It is meant to encourage service by Diaspora Jews and children of Israelis who are ‘adopted’ by the Israel Scouts and placed in a host kibbutz that serves as their home during leaves. The program is largely funded by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
Over 450 soldier Olim are expected to make Aliyah from North America and the United Kingdom this year.
The flight also includes 52 families – including 120 children – who are joining over 2,500 North American and British Olim heading to Israel this summer. There will be a total of two charters and seven Aliyah flights organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency.
This year’s effort marks the second year Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF have partnered to help newly arrived soldiers with their transition into their new lives in Israel. As a result, these soldiers receive financial grants, social support, quarterly care packages and post-army integrative services, including educational guidance, career counseling and job placement.
Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries will gather at Ben Gurion Airport to welcome the immigrants at arrival, including Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver; Kadima MK Dalia Itzik; Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, Eyal Gabai; IDF Education and Youth Corps Brigadier General, Eli Shermayster, Chief Financial Officer of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yaron Neudorfer; FIDF Tri-State Young Leadership President, Tony Felzen; Israel Scouts Chairman, Eli Ben Yosef; El Al V.P. of Customers & Service, Yehudit Grisaro; Chairman of Bank Hapoalim, Yair Saroussi; Chairman of Bank Discount, Yossi Bachar; Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Erez Halfon and Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart.