Katrina Casualties Among 240 New Immigrants Arriving Thursday

Jewish Agency: By December 2006, a record 2,300 North Americans will have moved to Israel this year.

NEW YORK - New Orleans residents whose houses were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina last August are among the 240 North Americans slated to make their homes in Israel when their plane lands at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Thursday morning.

The flight also includes about 100 members of a Bukharan Jewish community from Queens. The rest of the 400-family community is due to move to Israel by the end of the year, as part of a program coordinated with the Jewish Agency, said Michael Borochov, the rabbi of the community.

Borochov said the Bukharan Jewish immigrants will form a new community in the Ramat Beit Shemesh area.

Thursday's El-Al flight, which was organized by the Nefesh B'Nefesh aliyah assistance organization, is the first of five flights of North American immigrants that are scheduled to take place by the end of the summer. It took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York Wednesday.

By December, a record 2,300 North Americans will have moved to Israel this year, said Michael Landsberg, who heads the Jewish Agency's Immigration department in North America.