Monday, July 07, 2008

What Yishai Fleisher Said

The Baltimore Chug Aliyah and the Israel Aliyah center sponsored a talk by Yishai Fleisher in Baltimore last night. It's a shame you weren't there, because what Yishai said was so close to my own thinking that it really resonated for me.

He talked about the four real reasons why Americans don't make aliyah: money, family, security and cultural differences. He talked about the two stages of aliyah from America - #1 - detaching from America and #2 - arriving in Israel. He gave people permission to love America while, at the same, understanding that America is not our home.

He talked about Jewish destiny and how it is completely connected to the Land of Israel. He characterized the modern State of Israel as a tool as opposed to an end in itself. . The job of the State is to get Jews to be able to live in Israel by building roads, providing electricity and bringing Jews home through the work of the Jewish Agency.

He also spoke about the fact that Americans who make aliyah should not be so worried about acculturating and "becoming Israeli". The fact that they are living in Israel is good enough and if they want to live among Americans, there is no harm in that. In fact, he said, there are many American ways of doing things that Israel can benefit from, not the least of which is learning how to form a line while waiting for a bus or for service :-)

And, in a brief discussion of demographics, he said something that is so powerful that I am going to try to capture it exactly. "Each Jew who makes aliyah counts twice. To make aliyah means that there is one more Jew in Israel, of course, but it also means that there is one less Jew in the diaspora."

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