Talia Friedman, daughter of US envoy, is the newest Israeli

23-year-old nurse arrives in Tel Aviv together with 232 other new immigrants; ‘she’s realizing her dream,’ ambassador says

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Talia Friedman, left, is greeted by her father, Ambassador David Friedman, as she arrives in Tel Aviv on an aliyah flight from New York, August 15, 2017 (Shahar Azran)
Talia Friedman, left, is greeted by her father, Ambassador David Friedman, as she arrives in Tel Aviv on an aliyah flight from New York, August 15, 2017 (Shahar Azran)

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Tuesday morning greeted his daughter Talia as she officially became an Israeli citizen at Ben Gurion Airport.

Talia, 23, was one of 233 North Americans who arrived on an aliyah flight chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh, a group promoting Jewish immigration to Israel.

“We’re so proud of our daughter Talia. She always wanted to live in Israel, and she’s realizing her dream,” the US envoy told reporters, moments after her El Al plane landed on the tarmac. “Our whole family is very proud of her. We’re here just to greet her and give her a hug and wish her behatzlah raba [much success] here in Israel.”

He added: “We just want her to be happy. This is something she always wanted to do. She loves Israel. We all love Israel. Our whole family loves Israel. And this is her dream. We’re very proud of her.”

Hebrew media reported that Talia Friedman, a nurse in her 20s, will live in Jerusalem, but her father said she “will live her wherever she wants. She’ll make her own decision.”

In Israel, Talia will probably continue working as a nurse, her father said. “She will hopefully bring refua [medicine] to people who need here in Israel.”

Talia Friedman’s decision to make aliyah was first reported by The Times of Israel on Monday evening.

“As a father, I celebrate my daughter Talia’s realization of a life-long dream to become part of the State of Israel,” Ambassador Friedman told The Times of Israel. “Our entire family is bursting with pride at Talia’s vision and determination to help strengthen Medinat Yisrael [the State of Israel] — one of America’s strongest and most important allies.

“Talia will retain her US citizenship and become part a vibrant group of American Israelis who do much to support both countries. We wish her, and her fellow olim (immigrants), tremendous success and inspiration in their respective journey,” the envoy said.

On March 15, Talia was the only one of Friedman’s five children to accompany him when he arrived in Israel and immediately headed to the Western Wall, and when he handed his letter of credence to President Reuven Rivlin a day later.

Friedman is not the only member of US President Donald Trump’s team to have children moving to Israel this month. Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, tweeted on Sunday that his triplets are headed to the Jewish state for a gap year program of Jewish studies.

Friedman, a former Trump lawyer, already had deep ties to Israel. He was a donor, actively involved in supporting the West Bank Settlement of Beit El, and a homeowner in Jerusalem.

He was also considered a contentious pick for the job due to comments he had made in the past — and for which he later apologized — comparing supporters of a left-wing Jewish group to “Jewish kapos” in the Holocaust, and for his active involvement in promoting settlements in the West Bank.

His confirmation in the Senate by a 52-46 margin was the most closely contested vote ever on an envoy to Israel.

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