The Person Behind The Posts

Friday, February 03, 2012

Is Aliyah Still A Personal Choice?

Here's something interesting to note.  When you do a Google image search for "Holocaust", every single picture is black and white.  Why in the world am I, just two hours before Shabbat candelighting, online doing a search for Holocaust images?

A trail of circumstances led me to the book Perfidy. It's a book I held in my personal library for 20 years and never actually read. It was one of the casualties of the move to Israel. So when I finally wanted to read it, I had to borrow a copy from a neighbor.

Perfidy tells the controversial story of a trial that rocked Israel in the 1950s, when an ordinary Hungarian survivor accused Rudolf Kastner, an important member of the ruling party in the infant Israeli government, of collaborating with the Nazis when he should have been busy saving Hungarian Jews. I realize that it might sound dry and historical, but it's a fascinating read, especially because, understood in its larger context, it has spiritual implications for the times in which we are living.

I finished Perfidy and quickly stumbled up a novel, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. I knew the novel was of Jewish interest, but I didn't realize the main characters were Hungarian Jews in the 1930s. The reader gets to know them well before the war begins and, as the incredibly skillful novel continues, the war marches on. The reader knows where it all ends, but the characters don't, so history unfolds from the perspective of those living through it.

My in-laws are Hungarian survivors.  Over the years, I have heard snippets of their stories. I especially hear my mother-in-law spitting the words "Arrow Cross", officially a Hungarian political party, but in practice, bloodthirsty Hungarian Nazis. Everyone in my husband's immediate family speaks Hungarian. I knew Hungary didn't enter the war until 1944, which was relatively late. And yet, 70% of Hungary's Jewish population were murdered, a total of 450,000 Hungarian Jews. So these books have personal resonance.

Layered above all this is an additional fact. At the crack of dawn Sunday morning, my daughter leaves for Poland on a school trip.

All the while these things are rolling around in my head, I am baking challah for Shabbat in my apartment which overlooks the hills surrounding Jerusalem.

My rabbis are all writing and teaching about the mother lode of anti-Semitism that's headed for Jews outside of Israel like an on-coming train. Their warnings become more strident each week. Once the Shechina leaves the galut, there is no more protection for the Jews who remain. World economies are wobbling. The possibility of a nuclear Iran is real.

I'm not the least bit worried for myself and for the Jews who are already living here, or for the ones whose eyes are open and who on their way here. I'm not anticipating another Shoah, Gd-forbid. But the next chapter of Jewish history is being written, and I don't believe it will treat the Jews outside of Israel well.

I am often accused of being judgmental, of acting as if the choice I made to leave the good life in America and come to Israel is the only respectable choice a serious Jew can make, of imposing my perspective on others.

But, with the memory of the Holocaust worming its way through my brain and the the Torah that ascends from Tzion through the teachings of my rabbis burning in my soul, I worry for the Jews who are not yet with us here in Israel. Again and again, history has proven that things can quickly sour for Jews who have lived in a particular place in peace and prosperity for generations.

I know there are serious, committed Jews who still think aliyah is a matter of personal choice. I know there are serious, committed Jews who assume that the US economy will right itself, that things will go back to the way they were, right after the next presidential election, right after Israel strikes Iran, right after the Mets win the World Series. I know there are serious, committed Jews who are, even now, investing in homes and synagogues and building playgrounds for their kids in Baltimore, Brooklyn and Boston.

And that reality breaks my heart.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I can relate to people's reaction that we are judgmental or pushing aliyah but they often don't realize that it is for their own good. Too little too late. I agree that the world is changing fast and it won't be pleasant for Jews outside EY.

Anonymous said...

How long have you been living in Israel? Do you realise these rabbis have been making the same dire warnings for the past 20 years? Why should we believe them now. You should take a look at their track record of past dire predictions before believing everything they say. I'm sorry to be so blunt but one thing I noticed from my time living in Israel was how gullible the frum Israeli population is. Not only do they believe all sorts of prophesies from rabbis without question, but they fall for every con scheme in the book in an effort to get rich quick... schemes that have been known about for decades. I wish there would be a bit more education on how to evaluate claims sceptically.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not the least bit worried for myself and for the Jews who are already living here, or for the ones whose eyes are open and who on their way here."

Do not assume that those us us who are still out here have our eyes closed. Pardon me for saying so but it sounds as if you are beginning to speak from arrogance and not from love. Some of us still out here can't come due to financial reasons. I have a house here and no money in the bank to speak of. I should come to Israel with nothing? How will I pay the bills I owe? How will I pay for shipping containers? How will I pay for a pilot trip? Will you buy my family an apartment? Hashem has Jews in galut that are fulfilling their mission. Do not think you have the eyes to see Hashem's plans with us in galut. My husband runs into Jews at his work every day. Jews who don't know the first thing about Judaism but see my husbands kippah and they gravitate to him. Israeli families(Intel) where the mother and son say, "Oh, you can't come Saturday because you're shomer Shabbos? We want to be shomer Shabbos too." Old Jews who want to know what the boxes are that Jews wear on their head because they don't know what t'fillin are! My husband has had positive, loving contact with all these Jews and more I haven't mentioned. This isn't mere coincidence. So you see, Rivkah, there is a reason for us being out here. Do not arrogantly think we're planning to build a patio, go on vacation(we haven't gone on vacation since 1989) or buy another house. We are upside down. Financially we are broke. We talk about Israel every day. We cry and yearn and pray that Hashem will help us get there. What we don't need to hear constantly is how our eyes are not 'opened' by our more enlightened brother and sisters already blessed enough to live in Israel. We know Who's running the world, Who has a plan and is not random. Do you?

Anonymous said...

I am doing Aliyah this month, however there are many who will not do aliyah because of the dis-unity in Israel, and the treatment of converts.

Batya said...

I really don't think the "good life in America" is the real thing.
And aliyah is choice, just like Shabbat and Kasrut...

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous who said "Do you realise these rabbis have been making the same dire warnings for the past 20 years?--If people had listened to them then they would be here now. The Jews were warned for 80 years that the first Beit HaMikdash would be destroyed. Time is running out.

Yehoshua Goldstein said...

Is history repeating itself? Read this article about how the Baal Hasulam, Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag zt"l foresaw WWII and the Holocaust 20 years in advance. He also tried to warn the people and nobody listened to him.
Edom is not going to be around much longer, Eretz Yisrael will be our eternal heritage.

Anonymous said...

Aliyah is not a "choice" like kashrut and Shabbos. I have $400.00 in the bank.

Hadassa said...

I know people who have come to live in Israel with very little resources,very similar to $400 in the bank. They came single, which is the best time to come. I have a few questions for everyone who is not coming on aliya for lack of money, and in many, not all, cases what is considered lack of money is crazy. I've read NBN articles that no Sabra should be allowed to read, because they reinforce the idea of overly pampered Americans.
Do you or will you encourage your children who are not yet weighed down by financial or other responsibilities to move to Israel or will you pressure them to "stay close to home"? Home is Israel.
Will you encourage your children to learn in an Israeli college or university so that they will have a good grasp of Hebrew and a degree well recognized in Israel before they enter the job market? Many institutions offer programs preparing non-Hebrew speakers for their academic programs, and some degree programs demand a high level of English, which gives English speaking olim an edge. Or will you encourage your children to run up huge student loans that will at best delay their aliya?
In short, are you helping the next generation make aliya or pressuring them to stay in the Diaspora?

Anonymous said...

I thought Kashrut and Shabbos were an obligation.

Anonymous said...

By the way some jews in America will be prptected by Hashem while some jews in Israel might not,it really depends on each person merits, and we dont know about Hashems calculations.

Baruch Eliezer said...

Making aliyah has been and always will be a choice,just like the 80% of Am Yisrael chose not to leave Mitzraim. So, in a way history is repeating itself. Our sages say that the final redemption will happen just as it did with Moshe Rabbeinu, but with even greater wonders of HIS hand.

The question people need to be asking themselves is "How lucky do I feel?" I don't have a crystal ball, but it really doesn't matter if I do. Am Yisrael is asleep and have been desensitized to the fact that there won't be a "next bus on the hour every hour". How many planes would it take all of Am Yisrael out of the galut at once, as we left Mitzrayim. How many flights a day would it take to get all of Am Yisrael home. When the final door closes, and it will, people will be saying "We should have listened to them." "We should have left even though we didn't have enough money."

My wife, son and I made aliyah almost 4 years ago. In Jan of 2008 I was layed off from my job. My field of work is so specialized that finding another job to replace it would have been virtually impossible. So, we decided to make aliyah. At the time we made the decision my wife was 8 months pregnant. Our first child was born as I was moving everything out of our apartment into temporary storage, waiting for the movers to come to pack the lift. We gave away more than half of our possessions and took what we thought we bare essentials. We left in May 2008 with ONLY $1500 dollars in our pocket and our son was nearly 3 months old. That's it. No job. All the savings was gone. All of this was before the Nov 2008 economic collapse.

We've been here almost 4 years and were saying, "Whew!" "We barely made it."

When Am Yisrael finally wakes up, they'll realize that they were slaves, but not physically. Their slavery exists in their minds. The way they think, always trying to get a better deal, trying to get the kids through college, waiting until they retire. What ever the issue is, it is personal choice to remain slaves.

Please my brothers and sisters, come home now while you still have the opportunity to by choice.

Anonymous said...

with al due respect when i read these rabbis messages i see a group o sheep that are being led by a "shepherd" who needs to beat them with his stick so they stop grazing and move forward . Does anyone feel the same ?

Enough speculation about the geula by these self-proclaimed, "good-willed rabbis". Let's use our seichel, open the sefarim and see what Hashem thinks about the current matzav!, [Poor people who don't know Torah and feel threatened, I have pity on you. Hashem should help.]

"Power precedes destruction." -- (Proverbs, King Salomon)

In these last few weeks' Torah portions [coincidence or, Divine Providence ?] we read that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart and permitted him to increase in arrogance and his feeling of omnipotence just before Hashem (G-d), destroyed him. The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 20:1) tells us that before Pharao died, even after he witnessed the splitting of the Red Sea, a revelation of G-d's Omnipotence, he felt extreme regret over the fact that he allowed the Jews to escape from his control. Pharao was an extremely wise king, yet he allowed himself to indulge in the desires of the evil inclination, Satan. We all know what happened..

"I will see your face again no more!" - Moses said to Pharao before the last plague in Egypt.

The stronger these nut cases' threats get, the more I sing and dance!! :)

'Nor will I (G-d) have rejected them, to OBLITERATE them, for I am Hashem, their G-d" (Leviticus 26:44); He is Hashem, may He be blessed, and His Shechinah (i.e. Divine Presence), who administer over them (the Jewish People) continuously, even in their exile. You must understand this properly. (see Shemos Rabbah 23:5)

HELLO ?! This is the FINAL geulah of am yisrael!! Will Hashem save us or punish us with chas ve'shalom another shoah at the end of galut ?? All these "wise men" who have issued unnecessary messages of threats will be held accountable. The purpose does NOT justify the means in Judaism ! We are Hashem's people (and Hashem loves us and watches over us, especially now at the end of the galut), not a bunch of sheeps !!!

Baruch Eliezer said...

I have labored over and over about this decision and decided that if it helps some one, B''H.

The dangers lurking around the corner for all of the Jews in the galut, and even in Eretz Yisrael, are not due to the final redemption, but the birth pains of the final redemption.

The war looming on the horizon is a war between Ishmael and Edom, the muslims and the christians. This is first mentioned in the Zohar and supported elsewhere by our sages.

The reason that Eretz Yisrael will be the safest place, like Noah's Ark according to Sefer Chesed L'Avraham, is that Yishmael and Edom will blame Am Yisrael for their own problems. The conditions and circumstances for falsely judging Am Yisrael. The war will be a meda keneged meda.

The only thing I know is that as a result, when all is said and done 2/3 of the world will die, but Am Yisrael will be saved. Not OBLITERATED as some will try to scare us into thinking. Which raises the question, What is meant by OBLITERATED? It means completely and totaly destroyed. Elsewhere in the TaNaK HaKadosh Baruch Hu does comfort us in telling us that a "remnant will be saved."

I don't know when the final redemption will occur, in a year, 10 years, 100 years. I really don't know, however, when it does happen I will still be saying "Whew! We barely made it before the door closed."

It is all a matter of Emunah and Bitachon. Believe what people or saying, or don't believe it. It is a matter of choice. A subtle choice that can have the gravest consequences.

People will try to dismiss everything that people are saying, although how many years did Noach warn the world about the upcoming flood and how many people listened? It does sound like Sefer Chesed L'Avraham.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Each Family has to make their own decision regarding Aliyah. If I had it to do over I would have asked Hashem what He wanted and not assumed that we were to make Aliyah because of all the blogs. Now 5 years later I realize it was the same nonsense we see on the blogs today. Life is harder here in Israel than you can ever imagine. I have never known poverty like this. There are no safety nets here. No food stamps in Israel, no WIC no unemployment until you are out of work 6 months and if you have a car you can never get help.
No way to help yourself either. Forget about continuing your education. Nothing for adults. Don't let anyone scare you into making Aliyah, let it be your choice. Hashem is with His people no matter where we are.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the jews who died in mitzraim and now is they didnot want to leave even though all the miracles were happenning, but now lots of jews want to go to Israel but cant, and dont worry about catching planes last minute, thats where the leviason comes into play...