TEL AVIV – A record number of New York Jews are considering immigration to Israel. This was demonstrated by the number of registrations for this year’s Nefesh B’Nefesh New York City aliya fair on Sunday, NBN Executive Vice President Zev Gershinsky stated.
Aliya is the Hebrew name for Jewish immigration to Israel. 1,300 people registered for the fair, the highest ever rate of attendance.
“We ended 2015 with nearly 3,800 olim,” Gershinsky told the Jerusalem Post at the event. “We are aiming to pass our 4,000 people goal this year and the registration for this event indicates we are on the right track. It was the highest ever and we see great interest in moving this year.”
The fair was part of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s “Come Home to Israel” tour, which will take place in eight cities across North America this month, including Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, and Fort Lauderdale.
The aliya fairs are co-hosted by NBN, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth Le’Yisrael-Jewish National Fund, and JNF-USA.
David Gershuny, Nefesh B’Nefesh’s National Chair, told Breitbart Jerusalem that one of the most important ways to support the Jewish state is to bolster its population.
“The Nefesh story is about building Israel through human capital,” Gershuny, who is currently touring the country with the Jewish National Fund, said. “When we build a state, the first thing that’s necessary is bringing people, and what better way to do that than to bring the Jewish people back to their homeland?”
In aliya fairs all around the U.S., NBN provides prospective immigrants, or olim, with all the information and logistic aid they need. According to Gershinsky, one of the main concerns for potential olim is job security and navigating Israel’s infamous bureaucracy.
“I think our motto here is ‘one step forward,’ ” Gershinsky explained to the Post. “Not giant leaps, not a huge move, but ‘one step forward,’ which means ‘come and explore.’ Aliya is something we encourage, we want to help you feel confident it’s something you can do and be successful at.”
“This event gives you the empowerment and confidence you need to make that one step forward,” he added.
“Aliya by choice” was the term Gershinsky used to refer to people who immigrate from North America. Aliya from European countries, such as France and the former USSR, often occurs out of necessity; for example, to escape anti-Semitism.
“We know that people making aliya from the United States or Canada are choosing Israel because they believe it is the right place for them to be,” he told the Post. “That’s how we view it and how we treat the olim.”
One of the fair’s attendees, Moshe Greene, said that America is no longer as safe as it once was for Jews.
“You see Europe being taken over by the Muslims, and you see slowly but surely Canada, America, Australia; these places are also affected. You can’t escape it,” Greene told the Post.
“I won’t call Israel safe, but I’d rather be fighting with a country that is definitely there for our security,” he added.
Since its establishment in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh has chartered more than 50 aliya flights from North America and assisted nearly 50,000 people in the aliya process.