20 Lone Soldiers Make Aliyah, Fulfilling a Modern-Day Story of Hanukkah

Group of olim. Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B'Nefesh.

Group of olim.
Photo credit: Ben Kelmer, courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

Seventy-two new immigrants (olim) from North America landed in Israel on December 28, including 20 soon-to-be IDF (Israel Defense Forces) lone soldiers. Lone soldiers serve in the Israeli army without family support in Israel. [Read more…]

Who Are The Lone Soldiers?

On September 2, the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces will be hosting an event in honor of Lone Soldiers and their parents. Lone Soldiers are volunteers who go to Israel alone to serve in the IDF. They are considered “lone soldiers” because they are in Israel without their families. Sarah Schorr is the mother of one such soldier. She will be a featured speaker that evening.

IDF_Soldiers_Search_for_Terror_Tunnels_in_Gaza

Eric Schorr was born in the United States. He attended Akiba Hebrew Academy (currently the Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy) and Columbia University. This “most pro-Israel” student needed to follow his heart. After receiving his college degree, he made aliya with Nefesh b’Nefesh and volunteered to serve in the IDF.

Like any mother watching from the sidelines, Sarah Schorr was especially comforted by the FIDF’s motto: “Their job is to look after Israel. Our job is to look after them.” She became involved with the FIDF in Philadelphia, vowing to do whatever she could to help from afar. You may meet her to find out how thanks to the FIDF, even though Eric’s family is here, he is never alone.

For more information about this event please refer to our calendar.

Dry Bones Comic Strip Creator Awarded Zion’s Builders Prize

The Dry Bones comic strip creator, Yaakov Kirschen, was awarded at the Knesset yesterday the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion (“Zion’s builders”) Prize, which recognizes the achievements of outstanding Israeli immigrants from English-speaking countries and their contribution to the State of Israel.

Nefesh B’Nefesh said that Kisrchen’s strip “has provided a quintessentially Zionist, satirical and unique view of Israel to the world.”


Kirschen and his “Long Suffering Wife,” Sali Ariel, at the Knesset, after the award ceremony.

Immigrants From Around The World Join The IDF

— by Rebecca Modell

Thirty new newcomers to Israel from North America arrived last week at Ben Gurion Airport, and 60 others already in Israel became new citizens through Nefesh B’Nefesh, in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

At the same time, at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Tel Hashomer base in the country’s central region, 104 “lone soldiers” — those who immigrate to Israel without family and enlist — officially became IDF soldiers as part of the Friends of the IDF/Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program.

More after the jump.
Among those who became citizens was London native Josh Steele, a finalist from Israel’s “Master Chef” TV cooking competition, who was the show’s first Anglo participant. He and the other 59 new Israeli citizens made Aliyah as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh Guided Aliyah program.

The 104 lone soldiers that enlisted came from more than 20 countries, including Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Italy, India, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, the U.S., U.K., Ukraine and Venezuela.

Nefesh B’Nefesh’s founder and executive director, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, said, “The fulfillment of the Zionistic aspirations of these 194 Olim while Israel gears up for its 66th Independence Day highlights the integral role of Aliyah in strengthening the State of Israel.”

With 90 new olim, and 104 new young IDF Lone Soldier olim coming from over 20 countries from around the world, I couldn’t think of a better gift the State of Israel can receive for its 66th birthday.

The Guided Aliyah program allows citizens of the U.S., Canada, and the UK currently residing in Israel the opportunity to make Aliyah through Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, while receiving the full array of Nefesh B’Nefesh services. These services include assisted government processing, financial aid and post Aliyah assistance.

1st Children’s Aliyah Flight Arrives: Record 106 Children Aboard

— by Rebecca (Langer) Modell

Gilad Shalit accompanied the 231 North American Olima board this summer’s first charter Aliyah flight including Nefesh b’Nefesh’s 35,000th Oleh

El-Al flight 3004 landed Monday morning at Ben Gurion Airport with 231 new Israeli citizens aboard. Even before they took off, the passengers knew not to expect getting any sleep, as close to 50% of the occupants were children. This is a new record of children arriving on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel. The 106 young Olim are joining a whopping 989 children who will be making Aliyah throughout 2013 with Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Israel and JNF. This is an increase of 20%, compared to 822 children that made Aliyah in 2012.

In anticipation of the arrival, Nefesh B’Nefesh prepared reinforcements to help the parents watch over their children and keep them occupied during the long flight and at the arrival ceremony. Amongst the activities that awaited the children were Aliyah coloring books, games and custom-made t-shirts. Former Israeli IDF captive, Gilad Shalit, also joined the flight as a show of support and appreciation for the thousands of North American Olim who are fulfilling their dream to return to Israel and their contribution to the State of Israel.

Also on board were 41 families, including the 106 children as well as 54 singles — 13 of whom will be joining the IDF. Also of note were the 41 Olim moving to Israel’s periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs.

Kindertransport 1938-1940

The Children’s Aliyah Flight reminds us for the story of the Kindertransport which saved “some ten thousand Jewish children out of Nazi Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the free city of Danzig nine month prior to the outbreak of World War II. For the most part, the children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. One of those children, fourteen-year-old Viennese native Renee Perl, was destined to become the mother of congressional representative Allyson Schwartz, Democrat of Pennsylvania.”
(Source:The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members)

The Co-Founder and Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tony Gelbart said:

As we welcome our 35,000th Oleh, it is exciting to see so many children amongst the Zionistic modern day pioneers who are helping to build and secure the future of the State of Israel. This new generation is joining young adults volunteering for the IDF and Olim moving to Israel’s North and South to help strengthen the periphery, to infuse the country with renewed passion and idealism.

The Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver said:

I am happy to welcome over 100 children who are making Aliyah today through Nefesh B’Nefesh and joining us here in Israel. Aliyah from North America is extremely important and makes us stronger as a nation.

The Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky said:

The Jewish Agency, which brings tens of thousands of Olim from across the globe sees Nefesh B’Nefesh as a dedicated partner in this important work.  The children and their parents who are arriving on this Olim flight from North America represent the future of Israel and every one of them strengthens Israeli society.

Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben Gurion Airport to welcome the country’s newest citizens at the arrival ceremony.

Those present included:

  • Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver;
  • Member of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption & Diaspora Affairs MK Dov Lipman;
  • Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky;
  • World Chairman of KKL-JNF, Effie Stenzler;
  • Vice President Global Sales of El Al, Offer Gat;
  • Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh Erez Halfon and
  • Co-Founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh Rabbi Yehoshua Fass & Tony Gelbart.

Photo credit: Shafar Azran and Peter Hamalgyi.

About Nefesh B’Nefesh: Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its over 35,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.  

Gilad Shalit Visits 50 “Lone Soldiers”

Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit visited the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices in Jerusalem yesterday to meet with 50 Lone Soldier Olim from across the world. In an informal gathering, Gilad expressed his support and admiration for these brave young men and women who hail from countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, Costa Rica, Norway, Mexico, South Africa, France, Argentina, Brazil and Spain and are serving in various units such as Infantry, Intelligence, Paratroopers and Communications among others. “I admire each one of you for what you are doing for our country. Your decision to leave your families and friends and make Aliyah on your own and join the army is truly courageous and admirable. Although you are far from your own families, you are not alone — we are all one family and are here to support you and make you feel most welcome as Israeli citizens,” he said.

More after the jump.

“We are very excited to have Gilad Shalit with us, and are also very proud to be the home for Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF, taking care of all their needs in Israel and providing them with ongoing support. We thank the IDF for their partnership in this important project,” said Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Erez Halfon.

The FIDF/Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program, in collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel and KKL, assists newly arrived soldiers with their transition into their new lives in Israel and national service, by offering guidance, social and emotional support, quarterly care packages, adoptive families and financial aid, as well as assistance to parents of Lone Soldiers in the form of information and support.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 33,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel.  

Holocaust Survivor from US starts fresh in Israel at 87-years-old


Oscar Phillips arriving in Israel on Monday after making Aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.

— by Jen Glantz

Oscar Phillips, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor from Deerfield Beach, Florida, made his lifelong dream come true on Monday, November 12, when he finally made Aliyah to Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.

Phillips, who was 14-years-old when the Germans invaded Poland, was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 where he then worked in sub-camps (Buna, Gleiwitz and Oranienburg) until being marched in retreat to Flossenburg, where he was liberated by the Allied forces. He emigrated to the United States in 1949 where he met his late wife and began a career as a dental technician. After his wife passed away a year ago, Phillips decided he would make Aliyah to Israel, where she is buried. Phillips has three sons and 10 grandchildren; 6 in Israel and 4 in the United States.

More after the jump.
“Nefesh B’Nefesh is thrilled to be able to assist Oscar in making a full-circle journey back to Israel”, said Yael Katsman, Director of Communications at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “We will help him do everything that it takes to make his absorption process successful and help him live many more years of happiness in Israel reunited with his children and family.”

About NBN: Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 33,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel. www.nbn.org.il.

16 Retiree Couples Make Aliyah to Israel

A group of 16 retiree couples, ages 50 to 80, made Aliyah to Israel on August 14 on the Nefesh B’Nefesh charter Aliyah flight that left out of JFK airport in New York. The retirees joined their children and grandchildren who have previously made Aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh over the last decade. The special Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) – Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.

More after the jump.
The mature Olim, who wore specially made T-Shirts saying “Aliyah: A Family Tradition,” reinforced the Nefesh B’Nefesh vision that western Olim successfully making Aliyah encourage others to do the same. They were greeted in Israel by PM Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a countless number of relatives at Ben Gurion Airport; sporting signs and various family t-shirts, all overjoyed to be welcoming their parents and grandparents to Israel.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is celebrating its tenth anniversary this summer, marking a decade since its inaugural charter Aliyah flight in 2002. The milestone comes as the organization prepares to welcome over 2,500 North American and British Jews making Aliyah this summer on two charter and seven group Aliyah flights, in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2012, Nefesh B’Nefesh will bring 4,800 newcomers to Israel.

Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. The support and comprehensive social services provided by Nefesh B’Nefesh to its 32,000 newcomers, has ensured that 97% of its Olim have remained in Israel. www.nbn.org.il

Celebrity Chef Jamie Geller to make Aliyah to Israel

Celebrity chef Jamie Geller, referred to by many as the ‘Kosher Rachel Ray, is making Aliyah to Israel next month with Nefesh B’Nefesh on the organization’s August 13th charter flight out of JFK airport, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel.  Jamie Geller was born in Philadelphia, and is a graduate of the former Akiba Hebrew Academy (currently the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy).  

More after the jump.

Nefesh B’Nefesh is teaming up with USA TV producer, best-selling author, and cooking celebrity to produce a self-documentary series following her, and her family’s exciting and emotional journey step-by-step as they make Aliyah to Israel next month. The series will feature individual episodes offering a behind-the-scenes look at the Geller family as they pack their belongings, say goodbye to family and friends, and depart on the special Aliyah charter flight. It will also feature the tear-jerking landing of the flight as they arrive in Israel with hundreds of fellow Olim (new immigrants) and document their first few weeks as new Israeli citizens.

Jamie Geller is the founder of Kosher Media Network (KMN), a 360-degree content provider and the first multi-platform network for the kosher market combining traditional media (magazines, books, and broadcast) with the latest in digital, online, and social media. In the spring of 2011, KMN, unveiled its Joy of Kosher consumer brand, with the simultaneous launch of JoyofKosher.com – the first and #1 social networking community for the kosher foodie – and the highly successful magazine, Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller.

She has been nationally acclaimed for her bestselling kosher cookbooks, her kosher cooking TV shows, and has been a featured interviewee on ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS News Radio, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The New York Times, New York Daily News, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and hundreds of other print publications.

Episodes can be watched at: www.nbn.org.il/joyofaliyah

Young Olim from U.S. Celebrate Their First Shavuot in Israel

— by Jake Sharfman

(Jerusalem) As the Jewish holiday of Shavuot approaches this weekend, Nefesh B’Nefesh, which works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency for Israel, organized a special celebration yesterday in Ein Yael, Jerusalem for new Olim to better prepare them for their first Shavuot in Israel.

At the event, the children, accompanied by their parents and Nefesh B’Nefesh staff, prepared for Shavuot by assembling delicious baskets of fruit, which is a customary tradition in Israel during this period.

“I’m so excited to be celebrating my first Shavuot in Israel,” said seven year old Nachi Jerozolim, who made Aliyah with his parents from Woodmere, NY last August. “It is so much fun to be living in a Jewish country where everyone around me is getting ready to celebrate the same holiday.”

Photo Credit: Jared Bernstein Photography courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh.