Oldest Couple to Make Aliyah Celebrated at Arrival in Israel - The Jewish Voice
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Oldest Couple to Make Aliyah Celebrated at Arrival in Israel

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Philip and Dorothy Grossman bask in the adulation of their extended family upon their arrival as new olim to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport.Philip Grossman, age 95, and his 93-year-old wife Dorothy, have become what is generally recognized as the oldest married couple to ever make aliyah to Israel. Married for seventy-one years, the Grossmans finally made the decision to uproot themselves from their home in Baltimore, Maryland, and join their family in Jerusalem. In addition to their excited relatives, the couple was greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by a class of eighth grade students from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University High School (Leyada).

“Phillip and Dorothy are probably the oldest olim couple that the State of Israel has ever absorbed, and they are proof that it is never too late to fulfill your dream and make such a significant decision in life,” said Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B’Nefesh, a group that promotes and arranges Jewish immigration to Israel. “We congratulate them and wish them many more years of health and happiness living together with their family in Israel.” The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry assisted Nefesh B’Nefesh in organizing the elderly couple’s flight, which included over forty other first-time immigrants to the Jewish state.

The thirty-three youngsters from Leyada – many of whom have parents or grandparents who have also made aliyah – have been studying the phenomenon of aliyah for the past two months in a special class project, and they were genuinely excited to meet all of the new olim. “The most moving part of the visit was to see the elderly couple [the Grossmans] be greeted by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It made me realize that it’s never too late to come live in Israel,” said Mikey Kalif, an eighth-grade student at the school. “We need many more olim in Israel!”

In addition to three children – one of whom already lives in Israel and a second of whom is planning to move there this summer – Philip and Dorothy Grossman have five grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. A large contingent of family members, including three great-grandchildren, was on hand to welcome the couple at the airport upon their arrival. “We love Israel and we are very excited about our aliya,” Dorothy Grossman enthused. “We are also extremely happy that we can live close to all our family in Israel.”

Twenty-two year-old Yosef Segel, a great-grandchild and yeshiva student who greeted the Grossmans at the airport, said that he felt blessed to have great-grandparents. Segel also expressed pride in his great-grandfather’s facility with modern technology. “He doesn’t have a Facebook account,” he said, “but he does a lot of work on the computer writing letters.”

The Grossmans and the other new immigrants were treated to great fanfare in the airport, as the Leyada students sang and danced, jubilantly waving flags and welcome signs. The children were particularly pleased when the olim sang along and smiled in response. “We are so happy they are here, and I hope they will adjust easily,” noted Inbar. “It makes me feel good to know they are home with us.”

While the Grossmans are most likely the oldest married couple to move to Israel together, neither of them approaches the record for the single oldest person to make aliyah. Two immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union were each reported to be 111 when they arrived in the 1990s, while Belle Goldstein, the oldest oleh from North America, moved to Israel in 1998 at age 102. In contrast, the youngest Jewish immigrants to Israel were likely a group of eight children – five boys and three girls – who were born in flight during Operation Solomon, the dramatic airlift in 1991 which brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

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