Yesterday, Israel welcomed 229 new Olim (immigrants) from across North America who landed in Israel on the  Nefesh B’Nefesh flight.  Welcome Home! Bruchim Habaim!

A group of 229 new Olim arrived in Israel Thursday through Nefesh B’Nefesh on the summer’s first chartered aliya flight. (photo credit: Sason Tiram)

Israel is home to many Olim from all around the world. These Olim feel a deep connection to the land, the people, and the culture. Historically, Israel’s diverse participation in sports predates the founding of the State. Of course, the immigrants who inhabited the land brought their deep religious and cultural traditions with them but they also brought their sports.

Over the years, Olim have significantly contributed to Israeli society in a variety of arena including high-tech, politics, medicine, and social services. One area that rarely catches the attention is the noteworthy impact Olim have made on changing the Israeli landscape of sports.

Without a doubt the sport of choice in Israel is still soccer with basketball a close second. While basketball and soccer remain popular, Israel’s leading individual sport today is tennis. Two of the Israeli stars, Andy Ram and Yoni Ehrlich, were both Olim.

Over the past few years, Israel has seen a surge in aliyah by athletes. Many of these Olim attribute their decision to move here to a combination of an excellent opportunity for Jewish athletes along with the higher probability of being selected to the Olympic team.

All of these athletes have successfully combined their excellence in a chosen sport with their passion and commitment to the Land of Israel.

We proudly salute the Olim and the entire Team Israel!

Did you know that more than 15 of Team Israel’s athletes competing in London are Olim? These athletes hail from countries including the United States, Ethiopia, Uruguay, the Former Soviet Union, Georgia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Here’s a list of athletes who are Olim and their country of origin.

  • Soso Paleashvili- Georgia
  • Alex Shatilov- Uzbekistan
  • Felix Aharonovitch - Ukraine
  • Valeriia Maksuta- Ukraine
  • Polina Zakaluzny-Ukraine
  • Viktorya Koshel- The Former Soviet Union
  • Marina Shultz- The Former Soviet Union
  • Andy Ram- Uruguay
  • Yoni Erlich – Argentina
  • Sergey Richter -Ukraine
  • Anastasia Gloushkov- Moscow
  • Inna Yoffe- The Former Soviet Union
  • Jillian Schwartz- USA
  • Donald Sanford -USA
  • Zohar Zimro Ethiopia
  • Misha Zilberman Moscow

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