Nefesh B’Nefesh held its festive Homecoming Barbecue in Englewood last week, for olim from the tristate area who will make aliyah during the summer. The program was in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, and JNF-USA. Guests included MK Ofir Sofer, Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration, the office’s Director-General Avichai Kahana, Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur of the Ministry of Labor, and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh.
The New Jersey homecoming barbecue was one of three gatherings Nefesh B’Nefesh held last week; the others were in Miami and Toronto. The participants enjoyed an afternoon with a variety of booths and food stations, while having the opportunity to speak with Nefesh B’Nefesh representatives as they prepare for their upcoming aliyah.
More than 400 people from the tristate area were at the celebratory barbecue, including the soon-to-be olim and their extended families. Nefesh B’Nefesh staff were on hand at the venue to answer questions and offer aliyah guidance and assistance. Various food stations, entertainment, music, and kids’ activities provided a happy farewell to those embarking on their aliyah journeys in the coming months.
“I was excited to greet the hundreds of new olim who will be immigrating to Israel this summer through Nefesh B’Nefesh at their event in New Jersey this week,” Mr. Sofer said. “The immigrants who choose to embark on these new paths have had to make difficult decisions, but I am sure aliyah has been their best one. As Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration, I see the task of absorbing new immigrants of the highest importance. Together with our Ministry’s resources, we will ensure, with God’s help, the best acclimation possible for all new immigrants.”
About 2,000 olim are expected to make aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh this summer. In addition to the annual charter flight, Nefesh B’Nefesh has organized nine group aliyah flights (with small groups of 30 to 60 olim), as well as more than 40 individual aliyah flights, which includes olim opting to make aliyah in a small group or individually.
“It is heartwarming to celebrate with hundreds of soon-to-be olim in their hometowns while witnessing the support and pride being expressed by their closest families in anticipation of their imminent move to Israel,” Rabbi Fass said. “We are privileged to be a part of the aliyah story for thousands of olim as they embark on this journey and look forward to hosting them very soon in their new homes in Israel.”
The barbecue followed the annual Celebrate Israel Parade in Manhattan a day earlier; Nefesh B’Nefesh participated with both a festive float and marchers.