Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome Olim!

With my first year in Israel almost complete, I felt it was time to go welcome the next batch of olim. As it turns out, Jeff, one of our fellow students from Machon Meir, had flown back to the states to put his affairs there in order, and was returning today as an oleh chadash, a new immigrant, so it was a great opportunity to do a mitzvah and welcome our buddy home.

A stock photo I have of Jeff, photo circa June, 2007.

We took the bus, supplied by Nefesh B'Nefesh, which left at 6:15 AM. Man, it was tough getting up at 5AM to make it there on time. But it was worth it!

Daniel and Yours Truly on the bus with our guest stickers. (Yes I know it's upside down.)

Sunrise over Jerusalem. Looks kinda like a Bob Ross painting, no?

We arrived at the airport at around 7:30 AM, in the old terminal, terminal 1. Terminal 1 has since been replaced by the new terminal, so the old one was set aside especially for the landing planeloads of olim.

Some of the guys broke out their tefillin and began shacharit, morning prayers.

Yours truly at shacharit. Yes, I know it's upside down.

Then came the announcement, the planes had landed and the new olim were making their way to the terminal. Everyone rushed outside to greet them.

Some brought banners.
Children who preceded their parents on the mitzvah of aliyah. "And he will turn back to God the hearts of fathers with their sons, and the hearts of sons with their fathers..." (Malachi, 3:24.)
Some, like this Israeli couple, didn't even know anyone who was making aliyah personally, but just came to show their support.

Milling around, "Uh... where are they?"
Waiting with bated breath.

The first peoplemover arrives.

And the first wave of Olim bursts out of the peoplemover.

It's JEFF!

And now, we move back into the terminal for refreshments and some speechifying.

Rabbi Fass, co-founder of Nefesh B'Nefesh, welcoming the Olim home.

The ceremony was also visited by former Prime Minister and opposition leader Bibi Netanyahu.

Bibi Netanyahu, Likud Party leader.

Okay, we're all tired, enough with the speeches.

Later, we guests were politely sent out the door while the exhausted olim began the process of paperwork and registration with various government agencies. It brings back vivid memories of my own aliyah a year ago.

Absorption Ministry clerks preparing for the onrush of new olim.

Overall, the experience was much more moving than I had expected. I've had a rough month or so with troubles with work, shidduchim, and the like. But going to the ceremony helped put everything in perspective. On the whole, life here is great, and no matter how troubling life's petty little issues can be, making aliyah is one decision I don't regret for a second.

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