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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Survey: 500,000 North American Jews could immigrate

Survey: 500,000 North American Jews could immigrate
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent

Some 500,000 Jews could potentially immigrate to Israel from North America over the next 15 years, according to a market survey conducted on behalf of the Jewish Agency.

The survey, conducted by a U.S. market research company, Harris, is believed to be the most comprehensive study carried out till now on the subject of the immigration intentions of North American Jews. The findings of the study were presented Wednesday for the first time at a convention of the Jewish Agency's board of trustees in Jerusalem.

The poll was carried out among a representative sample from the some 6.3 million Jews living in the United States and Canada. Around 1.5 percent of the respondents (representing some 100,000 individuals) said there was a high chance of their moving to Israel, permanently or temporarily, within the next five years. Approximately 6 percent of the respondents (representing some 400,000 individuals) expressed a willingness in principle to make a permanent or temporary move to Israel.

Ten percent of the respondents (representing some 700,000 people) expressed interest in a move to Israel.

An analysis of those interested in moving to Israel indicates that contrary to the belief of many, only one-third of these individuals are part of the Orthodox stream among U.S. Jewry. One-third define themselves as Conservative Jews, while the remainder classify themselves as Reform Jews or otherwise.

The survey was conducted among a representative sample numbering 1,690 adult Jews living in Canada and the United States. The study was initiated by an immigration-encouragement task force headed by businessman Didi Arazi, one of the owners of the Nice hi-tech company.

One of the participants at Wednesday's discussion commented that the numbers appeared somewhat inflated. "I couldn't understand how 100,000 people in North America are said to `have their bags packed' while just a few thousand immigrate from them in practice," he said.

Indeed, despite the fact that since 2001 there has been a consistent increase in the number of immigrants from the United States and Canada, the Jewish Agency believes that some 3,800 North American Jews at most will move to Israel in 2005.

Arazi says the numbers presented are not inflated, but that the answers of the respondents have to be interpreted cautiously and conservatively. "The 1.5 percent who said there is a good chance that they will move to Israel will not be immigrating tomorrow morning," Arazi said. "I would say they are ripe for immigration, but most of them won't immigrate if we aren't able to convince them to do so.

"If we do the work properly, we have a chance to bring 400,000-500,000 Jews to Israel by the year 2020," he continued.

Mike Rosenberg, the director of the Jewish Agency's Immigration Department, is aware that together with the promise reflected in the survey, its findings could lead to criticism of the Jewish Agency in the event that the rosy immigration forecasts fail to hold true.

"From now on, we won't have any more excuses," Rosenberg said.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Oleh of the Decade: Corporal Avi Bieber

After speaking with Avi's father, Raphael, I came to the conclusion that the decision to make Aliyah from North America in our time is very similar to the decision that faces Israel's soldiers at this point in time.

It is a decision to listen to that voice inside you that is the clarity that results from the ability to look beyond the system and the excuses that are dangled in front of you to give you any number of ways to ignore that which is right, true, but very difficult.

May Avi and his family be strengthened and may we look back on these times with thanks to God for the fact that they spurred us to act in a courageous and extraordinary manner on behalf of truth, justice and the desire to fulfill our charge, which is to perfect the world.

Thank you Avi, for inspiring us and giving us the strength to ignore those who say disaster and surrender is "inevitable."

To read more about Avi, click here and here(now I realize why God created Haaretz).

To see the video footage of his refusal, click here.

To see pictures of the 'Orange Revolution' sweeping the country, click here.
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

There is a revolution afoot...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Very Very Good Land!



"They said to the whole Israelite community, "The land through which we passed in our explorations, is a very very good land!" (Bamidbar 14:7)

"If G-d is satisfied with us and brings us to this land, He can give it to us-- a land flowing with milk and honey."(Bamidbar 14:8)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Aliyah and Israel: A Closer Look (Part II)

PART II: Aliyah: An Upward Trend
By Pinchas Orbach for KUMAH

More and more North Americans are making Aliyah. In Part I of this series we examined how the number of North American olim has doubled since 2001 and how the numbers now stand at a 20 year high. It is important to not only look at North American Aliyah numbers as a whole but also to take into account the most influential factor in this sharp increase. Namely, the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization (NBN). Already today most North American's making the move to Israel choose NBN for moral support if not also for financial support.

In short, the trend of North America olim that used NBN looks roughly something like this:

Year - Number of NBN North American olim
2002 - 500,
2003 - 1000,
2004 - 2000,

4000? Could it be? Time will tell. But NBN has already scheduled a whopping six Summer 2005 flights! (Rumor has it a seventh flight may be in the works.)

That is, in fact, twice as many summer flights as NBN arranged in 2004. Plus NBN also lists Fall 2005 and Winter 2005 flights being planned on their website. So by using simple math 4000 olim this year looks -- well, likely.

100,000 North American Jews Home In Five Years

In 2003 Rabbi Fass boldly declared his intention to bring 100,000 Jews home over the next five years. If the current rate of doubling each year holds, NBN would pass the 100,000 mark sometime in 2009, six years after Fass' declaration.

Predictably to meet the vision of its founders, NBN has morphed from an assistor of Aliyah, to a facilitator of Aliyah, and finally into a tremendous promoter of Aliyah. In the past, every oleh that came with NBN actually approached NBN first. No more. Now NBN has started to actually recruit people. In March for example, NBN sent Aliyah Ambassadors (olim that made Aliyah with NBN previously) all over North America. These ambassadors spoke at local synagogues and various cultural events. They spoke of their own Aliyah experiences and encouraged all Jews to make Aliyah as they did.

NBN is also getting perhaps even more aggressive at promoting Aliyah on college campuses across the continent. They have launched an "Aliyah Student Ambassadors" program at least 18 different campuses. These "ambassadors" are a bit different than the ones mentioned above. NBN actually invites students to Israel and trains them on everything there is to know about making Aliyah. These ambassadors then return and promote Aliyah on their respective campuses, encouraging Aliyah and teaching fellow students how to prepare for making it a successful Aliyah.

Come, And Bring Friends

The success of this Aliyah Revolution may lie with another aspect of the Jewish People. It is a characteristic that will explain why the first 50,000 Jews will present a significantly larger challenge to NBN than the second 50,000 olim. It is no secret that we are an incredibly tight-knit people. We live close to our friends and relatives and put plenty of emphasis on the community. Ironically, these qualities are usually used to explain why North Americans are not making Aliyah. It is extremely difficult for North American Jews to just leave there families and friends and flourishing communities behind -- especially when there is so much uncertainly as to what awaits them on the other side. But this trait very well might just become the most powerful force behind a spike in modern day Western Aliyah.

Take for example NBN Aliyah Ambassador (and Kumah friend) Noa Resi Hirsh. Noa was on the very first NBN flight in 2002. Her sister and lots of close friends came on NBN flights the following year. This past December, I had the pleasure of meeting her parents at JFK airport during the ceremony for the Winter 2004 NBN flight. After spotting a man in the front row wearing a yarmulke with Kumah's trademarked "I'm Making Aliyah!" slogan knitted on it, naturally this Kumah volunteer inquired about it. The man turned out to be Noa's father and he explained that his daughter, (Noa's sister) who just made Aliyah the year before, knit it for him.

Now this point might not seem like such a bombshell. But this example illustrates that every Jew that makes Aliyah actually serves as a magnet for the family and friends they leave behind. And many of these family members and friends end up making Aliyah themselves to be with them. (There are countless more cases of grandparents making Aliyah to see their grandchildren, a sibling going to be together with sisters and brothers, close friends reuniting, etc.) And those olim have even more friends and family that they themselves attract.

The Snowball Effect

The ultimate outcome is what can be known as the snowball effect. The more the snowball gets rolled in the snow the larger it gets. And more importantly the larger it gets, the faster its rate growth becomes because with a larger surface more snow can stick to it. So it not only gets bigger, it gets bigger faster. More olim means more olim to attract more friends and family. And it also means more communities established. Would anyone question that a neighborhood such as Ramat Beit Shemesh greatly suits the North American oleh? And that Aliyah is significantly more comfortable with such established Anglo-Saxon communities than it was before they existed?

As a result, as more olim come to Israel, Aliyah gets increasingly more attractive, (more family and friends) and more comfortable (more communities.) Until it one day Aliyah hits critical mass. That critical mass is the day it actually becomes easier and more practical for a Jew the make Aliyah than to live in the Diaspora. And while to many this indeed sounds very much like a pipe dream, and years away, imagine if in 2001 someone wrote about how a 28-years-old rabbi and a businessman from Florida are working on forming an organization to encourage mass Aliyah. And that in Summer 2005 this organization will send home six jumbo jets, full with North American olim. Nice pipe dream!
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Jerusalem Day!!!

At the foot of the Temple

This cool Jew is traveling the country by camel

A window to a greater world (Kotel police station)

The power of Jewish Joy!

Our fire burns long into the night....

My son, my son, Avshalom
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Monday, June 06, 2005

Aliyah 5765 at the Israel Day Parade

Beautiful sunny June day in New York City...

I love a parade...

An orange balloon for everyone!

"Sound the Great Shofer to our Redemption!"

These Jews are all going on THE Ultimate Solidarity Mission:

NBN Summer 5765 Aliyah!!! (I'll Bez"H be there too!!!)

Shout out to Bethy Meshel! This picture's for you...

"The ENTIRE Israel is OUR HOME!"

Alex hard at work with Arutz-7! (They broadcast the concert live here!)

Aliyah advocates all over...

Aliyah Revolution: Let's go Home to ALL of ISRAEL!
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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Yom Yerushalayim - Liberation of Jerusalem Recording

In honor of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) which commemorated the liberation and unification of the Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall) during the 6 Day War, here is a link to the historic live broadcast, as was broadcast on the Voice of Israel Radio on June 7th, 1967, of the liberation of Jerusalem.

Click here to listen.

To listen, click on "listen" in the top left corner of the screen, and, for those whose Hebrew might be a little weak, there is a translation of the audio found on the website.

When listening to the recording, keep in mind that you are listening to one of the most momentous occasions in the entire history of the Jewish People. While listening, you can hear the excitement and emotion in the voices of the soldiers, which was as a result, not of merely having been victorious in battle, but of their recognition that they, serving in the 1st Jewish army in 2,000 years, had just taken part in the liberation of Jerusalem - the holiest place in the world, fulfilling the hopes, dreams and prayers of the Jewish People throughout the millennia, to return and rebuild Jerusalem.

Many of these soldiers, who wept and cried in joy, were not religious, but in this moment, each and every Jew present felt a direct connection to Hashem, no matter their background.

That is the power of Jerusalem - may we all feel it this year on Yom Yerushalayim.

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