When I made aliyah in 1983, the process was relatively easy and painless. I came with a group that was making aliyah together, and we were welcomed warmly, rushed through immigration paperwork, and met by a representative of the Association for Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI) which made us feel rather....well, wanted.
Fast forward to 2009, my 26th year, when aliyah from North America is handled by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization. Not only do they give good advice and guidance to people planning aliyah while they're planning (if I had a nickel for every horror story I'd heard about bad advice given to immigrants who were planning aliyah in previous years...the slichim, emmissaries, used to tell the olim anything to get them to come, whether it had a kernel of truth in it or not)but they offer financial assistance and a lot of support for the olim (immigrants) who are on the way, and once they're here.
NBN brings their immigrants in planeloads, so everyone feels the excitement of being around hundreds of other people who are doing the same thing that they are. Aliyah buraucracy is taken care of on the plane by representatives of Israel's Interior Ministry, and when they arrive in Israel, they already have their paperwork in hand. The planes are met by friends and relatives on the tarmac, which is filmed extensively by NBN, and a welcoming ceremony in the airport is addressed by all sorts of dignitaries.
For the last few years, I've watched the broadcasts, sometimes live and sometimes after arrival, on internet. The NBN PR people must be some of the best in the business, because they insure that everything is thought of, and every smile, wave, tear, and excited comment is filmed and broadcast. I, of course, am a complete sucker for this, and always tear up a bit when watching the immigrants who are coming with the exact same sense of excitement and anticipation that I felt 26 years ago, and that olim have been feeling for hundreds of years.
This morning, while listening to the arrival ceremony while I was working, I thought to myself "I wish that my kids could understand this". They're pretty blase about the things that I get emotional about, and I don't even mention most of these kind of incidents to them any more.
This evening however, my daughter Yochi, who is in the army now, called and told me that she was brought to the airport that morning to welcome the new olim. She was excited to have been part of that day, to have danced and hugged the new immigrants and welcomed them to their new home in Israel, and I was moved to hear that, sure enough, some of my emotions were shared by at least one of my offspring.
I'll bet that she didn't get too teary-eyed though.
Report on Aliyah Flight which landed in Israel July 7, 2009
Maybe we'll see some of them in Safed