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Special to the JTA a Memorable Celebration for Aliya

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“A dunam here, a dunam there, acre after acre.” So goes the popular song of the pioneering yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine before the State of Israel was born) recalling the slow-but-steady process of land reclamation. A similar pattern can be observed in what can be called the reclamation of people — aliya, for example.

Small yearly trickles — an annual average of around 2,600 — over the past 18 years have slowly but steadily added up to a total of 65,000 North American olim to Israel, enough to populate a healthy-sized development town. And those trickles seem to be growing into a stream in the past year to year-and-a-half.

The number 18 is significant, for just that number of years ago, in 1965, the Israel Aliya Center of North America was founded under the sponsorship of the World Zionist Organization-American Section to promote the concept and assist in the realization of aliya.

SPECIAL EL AL FLIGHT OF OLIM JULY 26

Looking back on these 18 years of steady growth, the Center’s officials decided a celebration was definitely in order — and so it will be. The celebration will take the form of a special El Al flight of olim scheduled to leave New York on July 26. It will carry 120 adults and 117 children going on aliya — augmented by 80 adults participating in the pre-aliya “Mivtza Elef” (Project 1,000).

The Project’s aim was to bring 1,000 people to Israel this summer to work for a month, on a kind of limited dry run. The aim has already been achieved, with 900 from the U.S. alone.

The special El Al flight is also the 3,000th one of olim carried by the airline in the 18 years since the Israel Aliya Center was established. El Al has dubbed the flight “Kadima Aliya” (Onwards and Upwards), a slogan it will paint on one side of the plane and which will also appear on the T-shirt to be given to each passenger as a souvenir.

A festive send-off at Kennedy Airport and an equally festive welcome at Ben Gurion Airport has been planned for the El Al flight. Israeli dignitaries are expected at both ends of the line. At the Israeli end, the Youth Orchestra of Lod will serenade the new arrivals, and President Chaim Herzog is expected to deliver greetings.

FROM ALL REGIONS OF NORTH AMERICA

The families on the Kadima Aliya 18th Anniversary Flight come from all regions of North America — with 16 states and two Canadian provinces represented. The professions of the olim include nurses, engineers, artists, social workers, teachers, computer programmers, lawyers, anthropologists, a jeweler and a cabinet maker.

Moshe Schechter, director of the Israel Aliya Center, said that reports from the Center’s network of regional offices reveal they are “back-logged with appointments.” The number of olim, he continued, are increasing. “There has been a dynamic rebirth of interest in Israel as a homeland where a family can be raised in a complete Jewish atmosphere,” he said.

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