Every Oleh lands in Israel with the same three essentials–a desire to live in Israel, a personal story, and plenty of luggage. Read on to meet the Fleischmann family and explore what happened during their first day of Aliyah.

LET’S DO IT With one glance at the blueprint, real estate professional Yakov Fleischmann knew this wasn’t just another building plan. In an almost surreal moment of clarity, he saw the house his family was going to live in after making Aliyah. Uncertain when that would actually be, he and wife Estee seized an opportunity to create the life they had always wanted for their family. The couple met at Camp Stone back in 1987, got married 13 years ago, and has shared the same dream of living in Israel since childhood. When Yakov and Estee were asked to become full-time directors of Camp Stone, their new path was set and the journey was solidified. On July 27, 2015, the magnificent seven returned home. As Yaakov said, “There is nowhere else we’d rather be.”

AWAY WE GO The Fleischmann family had spent the summer at Camp Stone before making the move. In camp tradition, Yakov and Estee prepared t-shirts for the family, which listed all their past trips to Israel, building up to the final one-way flight to the land of milk and honey. It was emotional to leave and thrilling to think about the adventure which lay ahead. Before leaving for their Aliyah, the Fleischmanns discussed the journey with their children:  ““We set them up to love Israel, to share in our Zionist dream—to appreciate the excitement, the energy, the beauty, the inspiration, the challenges. We talked about it a lot.”

BEFORE THE FLIGHT With over 20 pieces of baggage and five kids in tow, the Fleischmann team eagerly began their journey through the airport. Once they said goodbye to their baggage, they felt a sense of relief. As they inched closer to getting on the plane, excitement began to set in.

ON THE FLIGHT Half the seats on the plane were taken up by Olim. Already amazed at the bond such a large group of strangers shared, the travelers chatted about everything. There was an overall feeling of connection, despite how different they each were. “We just know it’s exciting to be with friends from all over the world, contributing to the Jewish world.”

LANDING IN ISRAEL All the Olim were asked to wait together before exiting the plane. That’s when the feeling truly hit the Fleischmanns; they had arrived in their new home! Once on the ground, they received a tremendously warm greeting. Festive feelings of celebration were in the air. “There’s no question—I’ve never felt so supported. Nefesh B’Nefesh made sure to let us know that what we’re doing as Olim is sometimes hard, but important and truly valued.”

PASSPORT CONTROL There was no waiting in the foreigners’ line this time. Instead, the new Olim lit up when they saw an Olim line, just for them. The Fleischmanns discovered just how small the Jewish world is when they ran into their close friends from Cleveland who were visiting. This unexpected dose of familiarity helped boost the family fun.

A LONG JOURNEY The next stop was Misrad Haklita (Ministry of Aliyah and Integration), where Olim met one-on-one with advisors who answered their questions, and received the first installment of Sal Klita (financial assistance for Olim) and a Post-Aliyah guide. Met with balloons, snack bags, coloring books, and more treats, they were struck by the family-friendly atmosphere. The room was filled with people from every cultural background, all sharing in this journey of Aliyah, a true bonding experience. Besides the flight, it was the longest part of the trip—but they walked out with their Israeli citizenship! “It felt surreal, and the memory is still foggy. We were so in the moment and enjoying every minute. We couldn’t believe we had made it.”

ONTO THE SOIL With disbelief, the magnificent seven left the airport. Unexpectedly, friends from their new community in Efrat greeted the Olim. Surrounded by people they had met through all walks of life, from New York to France, they understood just how significant making Aliyah is—not only for their family but for the Jewish people as a whole. “As a young adult, I remember stepping off the plane and immediately kissing the ground. When I had the opportunity to do the same after making Aliyah, it was a very powerful moment for me. To think about our forefathers who didn’t make it here, and for me to have the honor to step onto this soil as a citizen makes me feel so connected to the land.”

THE HOMECOMING The elated Fleischmann crew and their 26 pieces of luggage warranted a minibus for transport. Pulling into their neighborhood, the family was met again with their new community of friends, who gathered to celebrate their arrival with signs, pizza, singing, and joy.

A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE “There is nowhere else we’d rather be. Of course, it’s an adjustment. I still don’t know where I’m going to buy my food, and we don’t have a routine just yet. We just know it’s exciting to be with friends from all over the world— contributing to the Jewish world.” “It’s not 1950 anymore but you feel like a pioneer. You feel like you’re a part of something in the development. It’s a privilege to own a piece of Eretz Yisrael. I’m so happy to be a part of this.”