JERUSALEM — More than 300 new immigrants from North America arrived in Israel, including 125 recruits to the Israeli army.
The charter aliyah flight landed early Tuesday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport. Some 1,000 friends, relatives and supporters greeted the immigrants at a welcoming ceremony.
In addition to the young people who will be joining the Israel Defense Forces, the flight included 41 families with 88 children, and 92 new immigrants moving to Israel's periphery as part of the Nefesh B’Nefesh and Keren Kayemeth L’Israel Go North and Go South programs.
Among the new olim who will serve in the Israel Defense Forces were two young adults from Greater Philadelphia: Maayan Saad, 18, of Elkins Park, and Miram Walinsky, 19, of Bensalem.
Liat Goldfarb, 18, returned to Israel, where she was born and spent the first 13 years of her life, before her family moved to Huntingdon Valley. She deferred going to Columbia University in New York for two years in order to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. She plans to study medicine and hopes to serve as a paramedic in Israel, according to her father, Igor Goldfarb. He said that his daughter never wanted to leave Israel but understood why they were moving: her grandparents, who lived in the Philadelphia area, were getting older and needed them close. Since moving to the United States, she remained close to the Zionist movement, the father said.
"I guess I would like to say that we educated her this way but I think she was born," to love Israel, Goldfarb said. "She was compelled" to return.
Also on the flight were Rabbi Sam Kieffer, who had spent one year as interim senior rabbi at Har Zion Temple in Penn Valley, and his wife, Melinda Mishkin Kieffer. The couple had been discussing making aliyah for decades and finally decided to move.
"We can’t wait for our 40-year dream to become reality," wrote Kieffer in a column  for the Exponent before leaving.
The Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.