Tuesday, August 28, 2012
350 new North American immigrants, including a record number of young people who will be enlisting in the Israeli Army in the next few weeks, were met by PM Binyamin Netanyahu, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, and MK Sofa Landver.
On Tuesday, August 14, a plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport, filled with 350 new Nefesh B'Nefesh immigrants from North America, including a record number of young people (68 men and 59 women aged 18-22) who will be enlisting in the Israeli Army in the next few weeks. The immigrants were met at the airport by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, the Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, and other dignitaries. Most of the young people will be volunteering for combat duty in the IDF.
L-R: KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, Board Member Hernan Felman, JNF USA CEO Russel Robinson, new immigrant and soon-to-be IDF soldier Max Levin, proud mother Judy Levin and JNF USA Board Member and donor Bud Levin. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives
In his welcoming words, Efi Stentzler said that KKL-JNF was ready to help the new immigrants make their new home in Israel: "KKL-JNF will especially assist the new immigrants who wish to live in the Negev. We have built four new communities in the Negev together with the Or Movement, and have invested a great deal of resources in infrastructure and other projects, thanks to the help of our friends all over the world."
Nefesh B’Nefesh facilitates immigration to Israel from western countries. Since its establishment a decade ago, Nefesh B’Nefesh immigrants from USA, Canada and England have numbered about 30,000. This year, about 4,800 immigrants are expected to arrive under the organization's umbrella.
One of the new immigrants who arrived on Tuesday's flight was 19 year-old Max Levin, the son of Judy and Bud Levin from the United States. Bud is a member of the JNF Board of Directors and has been involved with KKL-JNF since 2002. "I've always had a strong connection to Israel," Max said. "Since I was a baby, we've been here at least once a year. We have a lot of friends and family here, so the decision to make aliya was not so hard, even though I'll be without my parents.
"The ceremony at the airport was really amazing. It was very touching to see everyone there and I had quite a big surprise – my parents were in the group of people that greeted us when we got off the plane! This wasn’t my first moving ceremony in Israel," Max continued. "When I was thirteen, my Bar Mitzvah dedicated the KKL-JNF B'nai Mitzvah Remembrance Wall at the American Independence Park in the Judean Mountains, where Bar and Bat Mitzvah age children link their names to the names of children who perished in the Holocaust. I was the first to have my name inscribed there, in honor of my parent's donation towards building the site. I visited the site last year, and it's really grown tremendously since then.
"My dad is very connected to KKL-JNF, so I've kind of grown up with KKL-JNF. When someone says they don’t know what KKL-JNF is about, I can't believe it. Russel Robinson
, the CEO of JNF USA
, is a close friend of our family and I sometimes stay at his house. I think the reason my father loves KKL-JNF so much is because it's connected to making the land of Israel grow. Today it's kind of hard to imagine, but before the first pioneers arrived, this was a land of deserts and swamps. I don't think this transformation could have happened without KKL-JNF," Max concluded.