July 17, 2024
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Aliyah Now—Some Final Words

I recently returned from volunteering in Israel for a month. While I was there, I felt I was Home. There is truly a feeling of brotherhood, unity and mutual responsibility among Israelis. I had many conversations with or just greeted strangers with shalom or boker tov who warmly responded back. While on a bus, I saw two elderly ladies enter, and a man from the back of the bus asked two young men in the front to offer their seats to the women.

There have been too many evil, criminal, sometimes terrifying, antisemitic protests and incidents in the last months in the USA. Our city, state and federal authorities exhibit the weakest response, sometimes even seeming to turn their backs on protecting Jews. Isn’t it obvious, with all the Congressional hearings and the passing of resolutions on antisemitism, the seminars, conferences, the press conferences, that they are nearly useless?

Do we feel safe and protected by our government? Does anyone believe it will get better? Is it perhaps time to consider aliyah?

The volunteers I met at Tachlit, the food donation charity I volunteered with, came from Australia, Canada, South Africa, Britain and France; all admitted living in fear in their native countries and are seriously considering aliyah.

When I returned to Teaneck, I tried catching up on The Jewish Link and read the article by Steve Starr that “now is not the time to make aliyah.”

The great Talmud Chacham and Gaon, Rav Yisachar Teichtal, wrote “Eim Habanim Semeicha” during the Holocaust with all its unspeakable horrors. He wrote: “How can we obey our anti-Zionist leaders who tell us not to flee to Israel, when we are being slaughtered in Europe? The sole purpose of all the afflictions that smite us in exile is to arouse us to return to our Holy Land.”

The words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l: “Read the Torah and you will immediately note that it is not a formula for the salvation of the soul. It is about the construction of a society—and a society needs a land. Despite the fact that Jews have been scattered across the world, there only ever was one place where they could construct a society according to their own values, namely Israel. Not only is it the holy land; it is impossible to be a holy nation except in the land. Galut, exile, has both a physical and spiritual dimension: if you are not physically at home, you are not fully spiritually at home either.”

Yes, Mr. Starr, Rav Soloveitchik, too, extolled the virtues of living in Israel!

How sad that the very last pasuk in the Tanach is by a gentile king. “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: Whosoever there is among you of all His people…let him go up!”

Let’s at least begin to seriously consider it, more than we ever have before.

Martin Polack
Teaneck
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