The Dorn family is leaving the Kemp Mill neighborhood in Silver Spring to start a new life in Israel. Pushing luggage piled high on carts, Ian and Gali Dorn and their three boys made aliyah on Monday.
Neither Ian Dorn nor his wife has a job awaiting them in Israel. “I am going on pure faith,” he said, adding he is worried about providing for his family and realizes he may not remain an architect in his new country.
Gali Dorn is an Israeli with lots of family there, and they seem more than anxious to join them and especially enjoy the numerous kosher restaurants everywhere.
Dorn is proud that someday his sons will all serve in the Israeli army, although like any parent, he hopes it’s not during wartime.
He is worried about terrorism, noting that violence anywhere can be frightening. However, he said, “I don’t want to live my life worrying.”
The Dorns are five of the 231 new Israelis, joining Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 49th charter flight. (Nefesh B’Nefesh is a nonprofit that encourages and facilitates aliyah.) Making aliyah on Monday were 31 families, nine couples, 106 children and 47 single people, of whom 11 will be joining the IDF.
They came from 31 states. The youngest one is two months, the oldest 78 years. Some have dreamed of making aliyah for as long as they can remember, others are still a bit in shock that they are actually starting a new life in Israel.
Also making aliyah was Yaakov Lipman and his wife, Ahuva. He’s sure “the time is right” to move from Kemp Mill to Israel.
Their four children, who range in age from 8 to 12, are starting to get older, explained his wife. The family has spent much of the past two summers living in Israel and has already begun the transition.
“It’s where we belong,” Ahuva Lipman said. Her husband agreed, noting, “The question always was why don’t we go” and not why should we go.
Still, Yaakov Lipman said, “There will be difficult parts, like anything else. We have faith that since our reasons are good, Hashem [God] will take care of us.”
They have family already in Israel including his cousin, Knesset member Dov Lipman.
Their son, 11-year old Naftali, had a big grin and a thumbs up before declaring the whole family wanted to come.
Yonatan and Hannah Beker from D.C. met when they both attended an AIPAC conference four years ago. The next year, they were married in Israel.
Yonatan is from Israel and has only lived in the States for six years. But Hannah grew up in New Mexico and has only been to Israel twice. They plan to live with his family for a short time until they can find a place to rent.
He already has landed a job and will be a director of communications at Teva Pharmaceuticals. His wife will be going to ulpan to be immersed in Hebrew and admitted to having “a lot of anxiety about learning the language.”
Israel “is the best place to start a family,” Yonatan Beker said. “We are really looking forward to starting a new life” with their 9-month-old daughter, Ella.
His wife agreed, adding that their daughter will be among cousins and other children, enjoying “the whole Jewish experience.”
Marietta and Nissan Jaffee of Baltimore are fulfilling a “longtime dream,” she said, adding that one daughter already lives in Israel and her son will be studying there soon. Another son is remaining in Baltimore.
As she spoke, her husband concentrated on the Hebrew language tapes he was listening to. He is retired from government work but hopes to use his experience as a massage therapist. She has been a teacher for close to 25 years and hopes to find work in that field.
“My husband has been wanting to go to Israel for the last 30 years. He had to bring me along, but I am now so ready,” Marietta Jaffee declared. She said she plans to “just dive into life there,” and go through ulpan to learn Hebrew.
Also on the flight was Rabbi Jeremy Stern, president of ORA, Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. While moving with his wife and three children, he will still keep his position and open an ORA office in Israel. He expects to return to the New York office frequently.
Stern said he dreamed of living in Israel “since we got married and before” and will live in Efrat.
In New York, he spends $24,000 a year for his 4-, 3- and 1-year-olds to attend half-day nursery school. In Israel, his children’s schooling will be free, he said happily.
The flight to Israel was free to all making aliyah as well as the several reporters invited to witness, compliments of the Jewish Agency.
With this flight, Nefesh B’Nefesh has started 35,000 people on their new lives in Israel. They ease people through paperwork and government bureaucracy and guide them through housing, education and career decisions.
The government’s Ministry of Absorption provides six months of financial help for the new olim. The amount depends on the number of people in the family and begins at 18,000 shekels ($5,040) for six months for a single person.
The organization held a short ceremony at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York before sending everyone through the security lines. Official after official welcomed the olim (immigrants) home, promising they will not be alone.
But the biggest round of applause went to former prisoner of war Gilad Shalit, who spent five years in captivity after being kidnapped by Hamas. He said nothing, just smiled and waved. He graciously agreed to have his photo taken with many people and shyly shook his head when asked if he would speak to Washington Jewish Week.
The ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv was more elaborate and emotional. Hundreds cheered, waved flags and sang songs as everyone disembarked from the plane. Speaker after speaker welcomed everyone home.
Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, told everyone to “open the Bible. Now it is your tourist guide.”
Dov Lipman, who made aliyah from Silver Spring in 2004 and is now a member of the Knesset, welcomed all to “the magic kingdom,” and told them they had been wrongly told that Disney World was the real magic kingdom.
Following the lengthy flight and numerous speeches, everyone gathered up their large duffel bags and other luggage and headed for their new homes.
(Suzanne Pollak is reporting from Israel this week.)