TEL AVIV, Israel – Nearly 250 new immigrants arrived in the land of Israel Wednesday after a 10-hour flight and sometimes years of waiting and planning. Many of these “olim” – or new immigrants from North America – see their arrival as a prophetic fulfillment of when God said he would gather his people to the Promised Land from the four corners of the world.
The arrivals came from 22 states, 2 Canadian provinces and include 103 children, three sets of twins and a 28-day old baby.
“This is a great situation for the State of Israel that the 240 Jews from North America, arrive in Israel here and we are very proud to have them as students and soldiers and partners in the State of Israel,” said Yoav Galant, Minister of Aliyah and Integration.
Nefesh B’nefesh, which works with the Jewish Agency to encourage more Jews to immigrate to Israel, organized this arrival. The organization has brought 60,000 North American Jews to Israel since 2002.
Co-founder Rabbi Yehoshua Fass was there at Ben Gurion to welcome the new immigrants.
“Seeing people fulfill their dreams, coming home. Remarkable,” he told CBN News.
For co-founder Tony Gelbart, seeing Jews come to Israel never gets old.
“The first time, the first person is just as exciting as the 60,000th person right now, it’s the same thing,” said Gelbart. “There’s emotion. There’s joy. Tears of joy. Look, they’re coming home to their Promised Land as you know. This is their home. This is their dream.”
One brother and sister were reunited after two years.
“I don’t know, I’m overjoyed. It’s so weird. I’ve been here alone and now I have my brother,” Amit Nahum said. “It’s amazing.”
Many families made this journey. David Eckstein was among the hundreds who immigrated to Israel. Eckstein is the nephew of Yechiel Eckstein, the founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Eckstein brought thousands of Jews to the land of Israel and passed away recently.
“It’s just one of the most amazing feelings in the world to be able to come to our homeland to be part of the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland that we’ve always dreamed of being a part of,” David Eckstein told CBN.
Yechiel’s brother Beryl said he wishes his brother could have been there to see David make aliyah.
“I miss my brother being here but he’s here and I know he would have been the first one to greet David. He loved him so much.”
For the Ecksteins and many other families making aliyah, it’s about the generations.
“We’re so proud of them to make this decision at this stage in their life, to come back home, where my father was born, my grandfather, my great grandfather and now this generation is coming home,” Beryl said.
For many of these immigrants, coming to Israel is also about the Bible coming to life.
“It’s about the ingathering of the exiles, bringing the Jewish people home. But it’s not only for the fulfillment of prophecy that I’m so happy because my family is coming home and we’re all together finally and when we’re all together in our land that brings the light to the whole world,” Ari Abramowitz said.
For these new arrivals their Israel adventure is just beginning, but the Jewish agency plans on bringing many more.
Isaac Herzog head of the Jewish Agency said: “This year we’ll have 30,000 immigrants from 40 countries. It’s an incredible story.”
The Jewish Agency has brought 3 million immigrants since 1929.