Despite Coronavirus Crisis, 24 Americans Set to Move to Israel on Thursday

Group, first to make aliyah since Covid-19 pandemic hit Israel last month, will have to go into self-quarantine for 14 days

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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People celebrate Jerusalem Day, May 13, 2018.
People celebrate Jerusalem Day, May 13, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

A group of 24 immigrants from the United States will be arriving in Israel as scheduled this week, Nefesh b’Nefesh confirmed on Sunday.

This will be the first organized group of immigrants to arrive in Israel since the Covid-19 outbreak reached Israel last month.

>> Follow Haaretz's live coverage of events as Israel deals with the coronavirus outbreak in a time of political uncertainty

Because of the coronavirus crisis, it was uncertain whether the Americans would follow through with their initial plans. As of last week, anyone arriving in Israel is required to immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. Non-Israelis must show proof they have a place to self-isolate before they are allowed into the country.

Nefesh b’Nefesh is a private organization, acting on behalf of the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, responsible for immigration to Israel from North America and Britain. Most of its group flights are organized during the summer months, when children are on break from school.

Originally, 30 immigrants were meant to be on board the flight to Tel Aviv. A spokeswoman for Nefesh b’Nefesh said that two of them moved up their flight and arrived last week, while four decided to postpone their aliyah, presumably because of the severe restrictions they would face upon arrival.

The immigrants were supposed to have landed on Wednesday, but because of scheduling changes at El Al, they will now arrive on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Agency announced Sunday that it will see to the basic needs of all immigrants arriving during this emergency period if they have no friends and relatives in the country who might be able to help them with provisions during their quarantine period. It will also allow them to handle all their paperwork upon arrival remotely.

The Agency also announced it is bringing back some 200 young Israelis currently serving as envoys to Jewish schools and community centers around the world. Widely known as “shinshinim,” they are participants in a pre-army gap year program known as Shnat Sherut (“Service Year”).

The Agency said there was no point in keeping the Israelis stationed abroad when the schools and community centers where they worked were for the most part closed. All the other Agency envoys stationed abroad, known as “shlichim,” are remaining put for the meantime, the organization said.

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