A7 News by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Dozens of American Jews moved to the ”Land of Miracles” Tuesday morning, hours before lighting the first candle for Hanukkah, the holiday celebrating the “Miracle of the Oil.”
The 76 newcomers landed at Ben Gurion Airport on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group Aliyah flight organized in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency.
Andrew Marx, 41, from Little Rock, Arkansas, brought two special Hanukkah menorahs on Aliyah with him, explaining that they “have been in my family for generations, and I inherited them from my parents when they passed away. Each one of these menorahs, in a way, represents the light they still shine on me from above. Tonight I will have the privilege of lighting my first Hanukkah candle as an Israeli citizen.”
According to Erez Halfon, Vice Chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, “It is very special that these Olim are arriving just in time to celebrate Hanukkah in Israel. We are confident that the spark and passion they bring with them will add to the light of Zionism and infuse the State of Israel with renewed idealism and positive energy.”
Minister of Immigrant Absorption, MK Sofa Landver added, “The arrival of new Olim is always a wonderful thing, especially during holiday season in general and during Hanukkah in particular.”
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh has helped bring 29,000 olim, mostly from the United States and Canada, and in recent years also from Britain.
Unlike earlier years when many olim returned to their home countries after failing to find work or blending in with Israeli society, the “return” rate had dropped to near-zero in recent years, with 97 percent of new immigrants via Nefesh B’Nefesh remaining in Israel.