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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