Despite an ongoing and bloody conflict, hundreds of families left the United States and France to immigrate to Israel this week.
Nearly 400 people from across the United States and Canada gathered Monday for a farewell ceremony at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Before boarding the charter flight Monday, the group was briefed on security measures and what steps to take when air raid sirens sound to warn of incoming rockets.
“This is a celebration — a celebration of our people’s resilience, perseverance and determination,” said Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni.
It was difficult for some people to part with their loved ones.
“I’m nervous. I’m really excited for them, because I know it’s really where they belong, but it’s hard,” one woman said. “It’s hard to let them go.”
The group included 100 children who were immigrating with their parents.
Last Wednesday, some 400 French Jews made aliyah to Israel, undeterred by the ongoing rocket fire and conflict with terrorist groups in Gaza.
The group arrived aboard two special flights organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, and notably is comprised largely of families with young children, including 195 minors and 18 babies according to the Jewish Agency.
Most of the immigrants are from the Paris area, which has seen particularly virulent manifestations of anti-Semitism in recent years and which has spiked further still during the current conflict between Israel and Gazan terrorists. On Sunday, a synagogue in Paris came under attack by a crowd of Muslim anti-Israel demonstrators in a shocking incident which one witness described as reminiscent of Kristallnacht.
Remarkably, although the new olim will be moving to communities throughout the country, a sizable proportion will be moving to cities in southern Israel which even now continue to be targeted by terrorist rockets. 60 families will be moving to Ashdod and Ashkelon, which have faced daily attacks by Gazan terrorists.
A further 100 will be moving to Tel Aviv, which has also received its fair share of rocket attacks, including four long-range rockets fired this morning. 50 more families will be moving to Jerusalem, which has faced sporadic rocket fire, and 130 more will be starting their news lives in the coastal city of Netanya, which is already home to a large French expat community.
The new arrivals were greeted at Ben Gurion International Airport by Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, and Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office Harel Locker. They were also greeted by the Chief Rabbis of Israel.
“Two weeks ago, when we met in Paris at the moving ceremony during which you parted with the country of your birth, I met entire families whose veins flow with Zionism, who are willing to leave their entire lives behind in order to realize their dream of immigrating to Israel,” said Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver.
“Every immigrant who arrives in Israel strengthens us as a people, and this is all the more so when it comes to the growing Aliyah from France. I congratulate you on taking this meaningful step and promise that we will be at your side throughout your journey. Welcome home.”
Video: 400 arrive in Israel from France
Video – Yeshiva World News