The NGO Nefesh B’Nefesh, which facilitates immigration to Israel from North America and the United Kingdom, announced that it had signed a contract with EL AL Airlines for 14 “Group Aliyah Flights” from New York to Tel Aviv over the course of the next three months.

The announcement comes in the wake of an unprecedented spike in interest from North American Jews to move to Israel, with Nefesh B’Nefesh reporting its highest number of applications in May since the organization’s founding in 2002.

During the first half of June, more than 900 applications for aliyah were submitted to Nefesh B’Nefesh, as compared with the entire month of June last year, when only 399 applications were submitted.

Many of those making the move said that the coronavirus crisis helped prompt a decision they long had in the making, especially those from countries hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nefesh B’Nefesh operates in partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA.

“We deeply appreciate the patience and understanding of our olim [immigrants to Israel] as we navigate aliyah together during this unprecedented time,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh. “It is incredible to witness and take part in this moment, where there is an unparalleled increase in aliyah interest. With hundreds of seats now available for olim, we look forward to taking a large step forward to ensuring that we can assist in the fruition of these aliyah dreams.”

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