May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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It’s Time to Come Home

My fellow Jewish Americans,

For American Jews, life is good. We have experienced unprecedented opportunity, and even when denied the promise of all that America represents by those who would choose to embrace hate and bigotry, we—like our parents and grandparents—have been blessed to live the American dream. Synagogues, schools, yeshivas, kosher restaurants—not to mention Costco and Target—have allowed Jews to feel a level of comfort, convenience and material wealth unparalleled in Jewish history. For the descendants of those who survived the Shoah or fled the pogroms of Europe, we, as patriotic Americans, have embraced the United States as our true home. But, the time has come to really come Home. To Israel.

Uprooting your family from the comforts of life in the United States will not be simple or easy. There are issues with children, grandchildren, parents, businesses and professions.

However, you need to make a plan.

If your child spends a gap year in Israel and then decides to stay here, be encouraging.

Spend part of your summers in Israel.

If you are in education, try to spend a sabbatical year in Israel.

COVID-19 has certainly shown us that remote work is more than feasible. For some, it’s become preferable. Our careers can be less rooted to an office, so it no longer matters if we are working out of our living room in Jamaica Estates or Jerusalem.

Are you living your Jewish life in black and white? Would you like to live it in living color?

In Israel, on Erev Shabbos, buses display their routes and announce “Shabbat shalom.” Living color. You won’t see that on the 167 in Teaneck or the Q65 in Queens.

The face of America today is not the same face of 10, 20 or 50 years ago. We have witnessed seminal moments in American Jewish history which make it clear that America today is changing. The angry and hateful political rhetoric and the tragic headlines of recent years must serve as a wakeup call. Tree of Life, Poway and the streets of Brooklyn today have shown us that things are different.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to these changes because my father, who was born in Germany, fled the Nazis in 1939 and spent WWII in England.

We must also learn the lessons that history teaches us. Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, who wrote the Meshech Chochmah commentary on Chumash, lived from 1843-1926 in Latvia and Lithuania.

In the Meshech Chochmah on the Torah portion of Bechukotai, which we recently read, on the verse “af gam zot” (Leviticus 26:45) Rabbi Meir Simcha wrote “The Jew forgets his roots, leaves his religion to learn other religions and faiths……And he believes that Berlin is Jerusalem.” It’s more than a little chilling that this was published just prior to the 1930s.

The current culture of “wokeness” and of standing for social equality are new and attractive in their appeal of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). These ideas cannot supplant or replace the majesty of Judaism outlined by the Torah for a true and meaningful life.

Only by being immersed in Judaism and living a Jewish life in the land given to us by God can we truly fulfill our mission to be a “Light unto the Nations.” Join now.

Nefesh B’Nefesh operators are standing by.

Let us all hope that it’s not a limited time offer.

Larry Shafier made aliyah several years ago and lives in Jerusalem, but regularly commutes for work to the NewYork/New Jersey area.

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