Long Islanders were among 239 North Americans who boarded Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 59th aliyah charter flight at JFK airport on Tuesday.
“If we don’t go now, we’re never going to go,” said Ayelet Ross Pelzner of Lawrence, who will settle in Ra’anana with her husband Jonathan and 15-month and 4-1/2-year-old children. “It’s the right time for my kids.”
“It’s been the dream for 10 years,” said Rabbi Robby Charnoff of Flushing, who with his wife Laura were co-directors of the OU-Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Queens College for six years. “We finished our shlichut and our daughter’s ready for first grade, so it’s time to go.” Their children are 5-month, 2-years, and 6-years old. Rabbi Charnoff will teach at MMY and Tiferet.
“There’s no time like the present,” said Elazar Kreiger, who with his wife Danielle and 18-month, 3-1/2-year and 7-year-old children were moving from Hillcrest to Modiin. “We want to put down roots over there.” Elazar, who works in health care management, said he has no job yet “but we’re going with hope.” Danielle, a physical therapist, will look for work after a licensing exam.
Jodi Ezratty, a 27-year-old doctor from Long Beach, said that after four years in medical school in Israel, “it feels like home and I want to go back.”
Avigail Levitz of Woodmere, a 19-year-old SKA graduate, said she took her “first opportunity to go.”
“I wanted this forever,” she said.
Marc and Sarah Merrill of Kew Gardens Hills were making aliyah with their 20-month and 3-year-old children. See Flight 59 on page 4
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“We want to go when our children are young, so they’ll be able to fully integrate into the society,” Marc said.
“Take in the enormity of this moment,” Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, told the olim at JFK. “Appreciate the miracle that we have in the State of Israel — the miracle that you can get on a plane and make aliyah 10 hours from now.”
He said that 1,500 people, including members of the Knesset and other dignitaries, would greet them at Ben Gurion airport. “What country welcomes immigrants in that fashion?” he asked.
Tuesday’s olim are from 24 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, including 30 families, 90 children, three sets of twins, 57 future IDF Lone Soldiers, 27 medical professionals, and 13 Jewish community professions.
Medical professionals, who previously faced numerous obstacles to practicing medicine after making aliyah, now enjoy an expedited licensing process and some will be able to begin working in as little as two weeks, Nefesh B’Nefesh said.