‘I Want to Breathe in Israel’: One Woman’s Drive for Aliyah Amid the Pandemic

New immigrants to Israel are greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by members of youth organization. Tel Aviv, Feb 23, 2016. Photo by Hillel Maeir/TPS *** Local Caption *** ????? ????? ???? ? ????? ??????? ?"? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???"? ??? ????? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ??????

Israeli organizations entrusted with facilitating Aliyah (immigration to Israel) have recently marked a sharp increase in the number of North American Jews registering for immigration to Israel.

According to data presented by Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that facilitates Aliyah from North America, the number of immigration requests has increased by 157% since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out.

In June, the Jewish Agency opened 3,359 Aliyah files, marking a 592% increase.

Lynda Borro, a 44-year-old single mother, is part of a skyrocketing number of Jews who have applied for Aliyah in the past few months.

Borro shared with TPS why she decided to apply for Aliyah during the pandemic, and what she expects from Israel.

“My decision on making Aliyah was previous to COVID-19, but COVID-19 rushed me into doing it earlier,” said Borro, who had moved from France to Arizona in the United States.

Before making her decision on where in Israel to move, Borro had planned on visiting with her daughter. When her flight to Israel was canceled following the Coronavirus lockdowns, she decided to apply for Aliyah without visiting.

“I decided I’m just going to do it,” Borro said. “I just can’t wait any longer.”

Making Aliyah had been Borro’s “dream” for quite a while, and the pandemic only strengthened her resolution.

“What COVID-19 created, is that it gave me more determination. Feeling the risk of COVID-19 gave me more strength in my own belief. I’m like, okay, I’m going to do it. I don’t want to make more plans. I want to do it now,” she said.

About living in Israel, she said “I want to be surrounded by my people, for sure. Even though my close family is here in Arizona, I want to be where I think I belong and where I feel at home. I don’t feel home [in Arizona]. I don’t feel home in France, even though I was born there. I feel home in Israel. And I think when everything is going kind of crazy, you want to be in a place where you feel home.”

Her dramatic decision is less related to the US’s handling of the virus, Borro added. (TPS)