Greeting olim from India

July 10, 2015 by Carli Diamond
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UIA Victoria Vice President Nathan Shafir has visited Israel’s Ben Gurion airport to watch the arrival of 250 olim from India…members of the lost tribe of Menashe.

Shafir was in Israel to attend the Annual Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal World Conference in Jerusalem.

Nathan Shafir [l] meets a new Israeli

Nathan Shafir and Ze’ev Elkin,  Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption

The conference brings together like minded leaders from the KH – UIA family globally for three intensive days during which they are exposed not only to the amazing offerings of Israel but also gain a greater insight into the work of UIA on the ground through touring a number of projects.

Nathan Shafir arranged to attend Ben Gurion Airport to greet 250 Indian olim as they took their first steps in their new homeland. The arrival of olim to Israel is ongoing. In 2014 alone, despite the security situation, some 24,500 made Aliyah – an increase of 34% on the previous year. Bringing Jews back home to Israel is integral to the growth and development of Israel and the Jewish people and fundamental to the work of the UIA.

The most high profile Aliyah missions over the years have included the rescuing of Jews who had been scattered and isolated in Ethiopia as well as bringing home over 1 million Jews from the Former Soviet Union. There have also been ongoing rescue missions from various Middle East countries such as Syria and Yemen and furthermore, following the escalation of Anti-Semitism in France (and Europe) in the past 12 – 18 months, there has been an increase of 77% in

New young Indian migrants

New young Indian migrants

Aliyah numbers amongst French Jews.

Mr Shafir has been privileged to witness much of this Aliyah, starting in 1972 when he was able to meet with Ethiopian Jews living in Bahdar and Gondar several years before they were able to leave Ethiopia. He stood on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport in darkness as El Al planes brought Jews from Russia in 1990 during the scud attacks on Israel and flew on Aliyah flights in the early 1990’s with Jews coming from Hungary and Russia.

As part of his commitment to UIA and its underlying mission of Aliyah and Klita (absorption), Mr Shafir felt drawn to be part of this important event. He attended Ben Gurion Airport to be amongst the many people who wanted to meet and greet a planeload of Jews, 250 in total, coming from Northern India. Known as members of the Menashe Tribe, these Jews were returning to the land of their original ancestors to settle in the Golan region which is where their ancestors were first located. This is part of an ongoing process to bring the Indian Jews back to Israel and UIA is proud to be at the forefront of facilitating this in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel.

The scene at the airport was very emotional as the olim, both young and old, walked into the waiting area overcome with feelings of joy and overwhelmed by the occasion as this marked the beginning of their new life in Israel. There were cheers and tears followed by some speeches and songs. The main speaker was MK Zeev Elkin, Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption who himself had been through the Aliyah process in late 1990.

After a short while, the olim were able to sit and relax with some refreshments served, prior to being processed as Israeli immigrants and starting their first day in their new country.

The rescue and settlement of Jews in Israel continues to be the main focus of the United Israel Appeal and the arrival of these 250 Indian olim is testament to the work carried out as a result of funds raised by Jews worldwide, fulfilling the mitzvah of helping out thy fellow Jew.


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