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Sunday, November 28, 2004

My Aliyah Role Models

People are starting to go to Israel for the right reasons. Years ago aliyah was for people who were running away from something. They weren't successful. They didn't have a successful marriage. They were coming because there was a reason. They weren't role models...
So said newly elected OU President Stephen Savitsky to the Jerusalem Post.
It's encouraging to hear the OU strongly promoting aliyah from North America and it's obvious to me that President Savitsky poorly worded his statement. He must have! There's no way he could possible have intended it the way it came out.

For one thing I'll tell you when my grandparents made Aliyah in 1982 they weren't running away from anything. In fact my grandmother convinced my grandfather to take early retirement so they can come Home. At a time when most people from New York, retired and spent their winters in Florida, my grandparents boldly moved into the brand new neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol - with very few fellow Americans settling there at the time. Yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

Even better, when my great-aunts and uncles came in the 70's, they had quite the good life in America. You could even say they were living the American dream. Well instead they chose to live the Jewish dream. Yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

And around 10 years ago when my cousins, the husband earning a "dot-com boom" peak salary, "gave it all up" to come with their three kids and a baby, and settle in our Homeland, they weren't running away from America. If anything they ought to have been running back when my cousin learned of the salary he would be earning in Israel. But, they didn't "run back." You know why? Because, yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

And you know, they temporarily settled in Beit Shemesh. And then bought an apartment in the not-yet-existing neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh. And while, it might not appear quite as pioneering as those truly heroic souls settling Yesha. Consider this. You try moving into a neighborhood when only two other buildings have electricity. When hardly any streetlights are functioning. When there aren't any groceries yet to shop for milk or bread. When there aren't even any street signs yet!

And the North American Jews that end up there today, in what has been nicknamed "little America," or even when they choose to settle in what is becoming ever more popular with Americans - Ramat Eshkol, all owe a great thanks to the Olim just like my cousins, like my uncles and aunts, like my grandparents, that "took the risk" and moved there without knowing what life will be like there, but instead had total bitachon in Hashem. G-d will not let his people down. Certainly not, when they made Aliyah for the "right reasons."

Olim that came 30 years ago made Aliyah easier for those that came 20 years ago. And Olim that came 10 years ago - made Aliyah even easier for today's Olim! And as the Aliyah Revolution hits critical mass, the Oleh of today will continue to help pave the way for tomorrow's North American Jew to come Home. Yes, we have always had role models. Most North Americans just weren't paying attention!
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Friday, November 26, 2004

Instant Aliyah! From The Comfort of Your Own Home!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Shabbat Beit El and Jacob's Ladder

I woke up early this morning, hoping to catch minyan. First, I took a plain yogurt from the fridge, but it was too plain for me. On the advice of my wife, I added some honey.

... and then it hit me. I was eating MILK and HONEY! Just another one of those moments where you realize you're living in the Land of Israel.

For those of us living in Beit El, this is no ordinary Shabbat - this is Shabbat Beit El, so called because of the Torah portion we read this Shabbat (Parshat Vayeitzeh, Genesis, 28:10)

"Ya'akov (Jacob) went out from Be'er-Sheva and traveled toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed the night there, because the sun had set. He took from the stones of the place, and put them under his head and lay down to sleep. He dreamt that there before him was a ladder resting on the ground with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of the Lord were going up and down on it."

"Then suddenly the Lord was standing above him; and he said, 'I am Hashem, the G-d of Avraham your [grand] father and the G-d of Yitz'chak. The land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants. Your descendents will be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth. You shall greatly expand westward, eastward, northward and southward. By you and your descendants all the families of the earth will be blessed. Look, I am with you, I will guard you wherever you go, and I will bring you back into this land, because I won't leave you until I have done what I have promised you.'"

Beit El, 1905

And Jacob awakened from his sleep, and he said, "Indeed, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know [it]." And he was frightened, and he said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." And Jacob arose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of it. And he named the place Beth el, but Luz was orignally the name of the city.

Beit El today

And Jacob uttered a vow, saying, "If G-d will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear; And if I return in peace to my father's house, and the Lord will be my G-d; Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of G-d, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You.

A few points:

1. When G-d promised Jacob that "I am with you, I will guard you wherever you go, and I will bring you back into this land, because I won't leave you until I have done what I have promised you," He was not only talking to Jacob the person. Rather, Hashem was talking to the entire Jewish people, throughout their history. Hashem was promising that He will bring back the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and that He will not leave them until He has done what He has promised.
Leaving, in this case, means the time of Moshiach, the End of Days, the time when the story of the world is wrapped up.

2. A question can be asked on the verse in which G-d states, "The land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendants." Does it mean to say that only the Land that Jacob laid upon, a mere few feet, He will give to the Jewish people? Rashi explains that G-d folded up the entire Land of Israel beneath Jacob, so that Jacob was laying on the entire Land; and furthermore, this was assigned to Jacob, that it will be as easy to conquer the Land of Israel as it is to sleep in that place. The imagery of the whole Land of Israel folded underneath Jacob is a moving one. His body, spread out on the Land, represents the twelve tribes and their inheritance in the Land. The miracle of the Jewish people reconquering the Land of Israel is very much alive today.

3. Beit El today is a flourishing community, with the second highest birthrate in Israel (reportedly, the first highest birthrate is in Bnei Brak). Beit El has a wonderful yeshiva, produces the best tefillin in Israel, and of course, it is home to Arutz 7's Israel National News and Israel National Radio.

Last, but not least, it is home to Yishai and Malkah Fleisher, Alex, Tzipi and Temima Traiman, and a host of wonderful people whom we have grown to love and respect.

Malkah and her home in Beit El

Yishai tends the garden
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hannah Senesh would be proud

I read this article on Arutz 7's English internet site.

Speaking of Aliyah and Arutz 7, if you're interested in hearing about Aliyah EVERY WEEK, with really useful information and support, check out The Aliyah Show:

Aliyah Reunites Father and Daughter After 23 Years
18:02 Nov 16, '04 / 3 Kislev 5765

Last week, with help from the Jewish Agency, an emotional reunion took place between a new immigrant and her father who she had not seen in over two decades.
25-year-old Esther Korotz arrived at the Jewish Agency's Absorption Center in Carmiel from Hungary last week with her husband, Miklosh. Her first request upon arrival in Israel was to meet with her father, who she had not seen since she was two years old.

Esther's father, Shandor Korotz, made aliyah 23 years ago and subsequently lost contact with his family. The Jewish Agency, after much effort, was located her father, living in Ashkelon. The reunion between the father and daughter took place at the Carmiel Absorption center.

Shandor welcomed his daughter ?home? and invited Esther and Miklosh to come live near him in Ashkelon.

Last year saw a significant rise in immigration to Israel from the 120,000-member Jewish community in Hungary. In 2003, 39 Jews made Aliyah out of a community numbering 120,000. This year, 70 people had already made Aliyah by August, and by the end of the year over 100 are expected to arrive.

Tova Pinto, the Jewish Agency delegation director in Hungary, says that increased Jewish awareness, manifested through a revival of youth groups and synagogues filled to capacity have contributed to the increasing number of Jews making Aliyah.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What you've been missing...

So if you haven't been following the Aliyah Blogs we have listed on the left hand side, you've been missing a lot. Here's a quick roundup:

Gilly deals with smokers in Israel...

David discusses the pros and cons of having a national ID card...

Yaakov explains why he voted for Dubya...

Avi maintains that Israeli Politicians are clueless...

...And Sarah announces that Beth and Simcha had a baby girl!

Mazal Tov!
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Monday, November 08, 2004

"May This Happen to All Enemies of Israel"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Hatov v'Hametiv

Arafat is Dead! Looks like doctors pulled the plug after it seemed that he would not come out of his coma.

UPDATE: Arafat's not dead - he's resting....

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Out with the new, and in with the old...

The new terminal at Ben Gurion airport has finally opened (4 years late), but better late than never, right? Wrong. While the new terminal is state of the art, and few terminals anywhere in the world can rival it, there is something thatthis new terminal will not have, and without it, all the shops and electric walkways are for naught. One the highlights of any trip either to or from Israel has always been the opportunity, before stepping foot onto the plane, or the moment after I would get off the plane - to be standing outside and have the opportunity to kiss the holy ground of Eretz Yisrael and to take in a deep breath of fresh holy air. In the new terminal, this will no longer be possible, as one will now board and disembark from the plane directly into the kind of tubes that will connect the plane directly with the terminal - as can be found in most airports in the US. As far as I am concerned, you can keep the shops, they don't measure up to those special, intimate moments with the Land that I love.
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