Saphir, who arrived in Israel on a special flight chartered to bring new immigrants from North America, was able to fulfill her dream of immigrating to Israel this week due to help from the Nefesh b'Nefesh (NBN) organization.
The North America- and Israel-based NBN offers financial and logistical help to U.S. and Canadian Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel.
NBN and a similar France-based organization were credited with a rise in aliyah (immigration to Israel) from the U.S., Canada and France, making it the highest immigration year from those countries in decades, said Michael Jankelowitz, a spokesman for the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish Agency is a quasi-governmental organization responsible for immigration to Israel.
"Nefesh b'Nefesh has made a major difference in the way Americans [view immigration]," said Jankelowitz. "It's not frightening [to them]."
It's like a "big brother network," a support system to help them get adjusted after they arrive, Jankelowitz said.
"There is a change in attitude. People aren't running away from anything, they're coming home to Israel," said Jankelowitz.
Jews from all over the world are entitled to immigrate to Israel under Israeli law called the Right of Return. According to immigration figures, for decades, most Western Jews have not chosen that option.
Following massive immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s -- which topped one million -- immigration to Israel had been on the decline since the beginning of the intifadah in October 2000.
But in 2005, the numbers started to rise again, and there were 23,000 new immigrants to Israel this year.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that the issue of Jewish immigration from around the world to Israel should be a top priority for his country.
"We must work to encourage aliyah from the United States, Canada and the rest of the Western world," Sharon said recently. He also commended the work of NBN.
More than 3,100 new immigrants this year were from North America, up from 2,640 in 2004.
While the numbers from North America may not seem very impressive compared to the whole -- there are about 5.5 million Jews in the U.S. alone -- they represent the highest number of North American immigrants in a single year since 1983. Almost all of them immigrated with the assistance of NBN.
Israel's system for absorbing immigrants is quite extensive and often tailored to the needs of a specific population, such as immigrants from Ethiopia who needed help not only to adjust to Israel, but also to modern, Western culture.
Nevertheless, the bureaucratic "red tape" and social and cultural challenges, including learning the Hebrew language, often prove too daunting for Americans and Westerners who are free to return to their native lands.
NBN has attempted to change that trend. Working with the Jewish Agency, NBN aims to help North American Jews overcome those obstacles and offers extensive financial assistance based on need to help with the immigration and absorption process. The financial aid becomes a grant after three years.
The program seems to be working.
The group has brought more than 7,000 North Americans to Israel since it was co-founded by businessman Tony Gelbart and Florida Rabbi Joshua Fass, who immigrated to Israel with his family on the premiere flight in 2002.
Some 99 percent of those who have come with NBN have stayed in Israel; 94 percent of those who have sought employment are gainfully employed; 165 babies have been born to the new immigrants, and 63 marriages have taken place, including two couples who met through NBN.
The newcomers emigrated from 31 U.S. states and six Canadian provinces, an NBN press release said.
Fass was inspired to start the organization after his 14-year-old cousin was murdered with other children in a 2001 Hamas suicide bombing attack, he said in an earlier interview.
On Wednesday, NBN brought its 15th flight so far, with about 220 North American Jews on board. Among them were 65 families and 66 single adults. The oldest new immigrant was 88 years of age and the youngest just six weeks old.
Saphir, who was on board that flight, was reached by telephone after she landed. She described herself as having come from a secular family that had a love of Israel since she was a child.
The oldest of four siblings from Victoria, Canada, Saphir said she has lived here previously, studying Hebrew and working for the Magen David Adom (the equivalent of Israel's Red Cross).
"NBN has provided me with the means to be able to come here. If it was not for NBN, this dream could not be fulfilled at this time in my life," she said.
Saphir said her family was supportive of her move, although there were a lot of "raw emotions" now from the separation, but she and her family are seeing the move as opening the door for a second home. "I haven't left. I have a home for all of [us] now."
A spokesperson for NBN said that in the long term, the organization would like to see an increase in the numbers of immigrants from North America.
According to Jankelowitz, the NBN program was so successful that a French businessman patterned his own organization after it to help French Jews immigrate to Israel and has had similarly good results.
Immigration to Israel from France in 2005 hit a 34-year high, with 2,980 French Jews moving to Israel.