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American, Canadian Youth Immigrate to Israel to Join Defense Force

American, Canadian youth make aliyah to Israel

Seventy-five young Jewish Americans and Canadians arrived in Israel this week with the goal of joining the Israel Defense Forces.

They were among 233 new immigrants from the United States and Canada that flew in on a chartered flight.

"I've been talking about doing this since I'm 13-years-old," Ya'akov Zucker said, who finished college and came by himself. 

"I feel like Israel has a need for the IDF. The American military, I might not necessarily agree with its politics. I might not necessarily agree with its mission. But the IDF is absolutely indispensable to the State of Israel," Zucker said. "It has one of the most difficult jobs in the world but it has one of the most honorable missions."

Ally Strauss also came from Boston by herself.

"It's like something I've dreamed about doing since I'm 7-years-old," Strauss said. "I think Israel has a right to be a country and I want to do what I can to make sure it stays a country as long as possible."

Nikki Goldberg from Boston was blessed to have her Israeli grandmother waiting for her at the airport.

"I came to live the dream in Israel," Goldberg said. "I want to raise my family here."

Chartered flights by Nefesh b'Nefesh usually arrive in the summer to gala celebrations. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin greeted the newcomers.

"You are no longer Jews in exile, you are Israelis," Rivlin told them. "You are home!"

The Jewish Agency, responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel, contracts immigration for North America to Nefesh b'Nefesh. Nefesh b'Nefesh offers a variety of assistance from tackling the Israeli bureaucracy to helping the newcomers find jobs.

This was the 56th flight they've brought from America since they began in 2002. It also had the 50,000th person on the flight that made Aliyah.

Among the youngest was 7-week-old Hadass Kfare, who came with her parents Na'ama and Zach.  

"Israel makes me the best person I can be and I always wanted to be here," Na'ama said, adding she wasn't afraid to bring her newborn to Israel.

"I had fears but on the plane ride over I said, 'Throw it away. It's not on my mind.' It was harder to take her away from her grandparents and her cousins, her aunts and uncles, who just fell in love with her and now they have to say goodbye," she added.

"We feel blessed," Zach said. "HaShem (meaning "the Name" referring to God) is great!"

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