In 2009, the non-profit organization Nefesh B’Nefesh brought over 150 participants together on the central Ben Yehuda Street for the first ever Jerusalem flash mob. The flash mob was held in honor of Chanukah, the eight-day Jewish winter festival of lights and fittingly was set to the song “Hannukah Hey Ya!” by Eric Schwartz. One can enjoy the flash mob at the following URL: youtube.com/watch?v=ULtglogZbR8
So who are the people behind the flash mob? Nefesh B’Nefesh is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to encouraging the immigration of Jewish people from North America, Canada and the United Kingdom. The organization was founded in 2002 by Rabbi Yehoshua Fass and Tony Gelbart and works in cooperation with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli government.
Before Nefesh B’Nefesh came onto the scene, the Aliyah (immigration to Israel) process was notorious for being a bureaucratic nightmare- the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles was enough to, and did indeed put off hundreds of potential immigrants. Rabbi Yehoshua Fass recognized this and together with Florida businessman and philanthropist Tony Gelbart, decided to create an organization that would make it easier for Jewish people to return to their homeland.
In the summer of 2002 the first chartered flight of Nefesh B’Nefesh took off and by the end of 2007 Nefesh B”Nefesh had organized over thirty Aliyah flights. From May 2006, due to requests from British Jewry, Nefesh B’Nefesh expanded it’s services to also include the United Kingdom.
Apart from the chartered and group Aliyah flights, Nefesh B’Nefesh provides government advocacy services, helping new immigrants overcome language and cultural gaps when dealing with Israeli bureaucratic procedures. Also, employment services are provided, assisting new immigrants in their search for jobs. Social services are provided, with Nefesh B’Nefesh maintaining regular contact with new immigrants prior to and after immigration to Israel. In addition, there are a number of special programs that are run by Nefesh B’Nefesh such as programs aimed at those intending to serve in the army on arrival and a program encouraging immigrants to settle in the more sparsely-populated northern Israel.
Nefesh B’Nefesh’s logo depicts a picture of a family holding hands and this is a reflection of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s goal to assist North American, Canadian and British Jewry to return to Israel by helping them through the process. Recently, Nefesh B’Nefesh has been working on expanding it’s services to include a focus on singles and students too.
In 2009, Nefesh B’Nefesh produced a Hannukah Flash Mob viral video that was immensely successful with over one million views on YouTube. The mob took place on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street, was choreographed by new immigrant Marvin Casey to the Chanukah spoof of a chart-topping 2003 OutKast song “Hey Ya!”.