(I’m writing this post in July 2010, only weeks away from August 2nd, when my family and I are making aliyah from New York to Hashmonaim — located next to Modiin, one of Israel’s fastest growing cities.)
Some people choose to make aliyah after graduating from high school. Others wish to make the journey before starting a family, or even just before retirement after living a full life in the Unites States. Regardless of age and social status, however, many people are choosing to move to Israel.
So why now? Why is this a good time to make aliyah?
One of the primary reasons that many are moving to Israel is because of the large amount of assistance that is available to Jews moving to Israel. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky recently explained that Israel welcomes young Americans and their passion for social activism, and believes that olim have a very valuable contribution to make to Israeli government, politics, and way of life.
Recently Sharansky was present as 233 olim were welcomed to Israel from North America. You can read about the celebratory event here: http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=180756
Can you imagine being greeted at the airport by people who are singing, dancing, and cheering? It is not like venturing to a foreign land; it is like being welcomed home and into your mother’s arms.
Sure, there are some challenges and fears for most olim. I mean, who wouldn’t have some concerns and reservations about acclimating in a new country?
However, statistics show that, ultimately, olim experience not just challenges but also resounding victories. The overwhelming majority of people who immigrate from North America to Israel do stay there. Nefesh B’Nefesh reports that 98% of immigrants who have come to Israel as part of their programs in the last eight years have remained there.
In 2009 a total of 3,800 Jewish olim came to Israel from the United States and Canada. The total number for 2010 is expected to be even higher. Analysts predict a higher number this year because, while the economic downturn here in America continues, Israel’s economy is rather sound.
Israel’s economy has not suffered nearly as much as the rest of the Western world in recent years. Opportunities in Israel’s high-technology, financial, and real estate industries are plentiful.
Every oleh has certainly been exposed to at least a few fearful and skeptical comments in regards to his/her choice to immigrate to Israel. Americans are exposed to news of the Intifada, along with images in the media of unrest in the Middle East, including the continuing captivity of Gilad Shalit by Hamas.
But the truth is that for Jews there is not really any such thing as a “bad” time to make aliyah. Israel lives inside of all of us — regardless of where we live throughout the world. Our souls and hearts live in Israel and basically just patiently wait for the rest of our bodies to come catch up.
The notion of aliyah transcends the ideas of social and political tumult. Furthermore, for those of us who have always known that Israel is our home, we are not frightened away by the images of Intifada. Instead, we wish to be a part of Israel because we see that our brothers and sisters are living in troubled times. We wish to be a part of Israel and to help her grow and prosper.
Each soul adds a little more but together communally we can achieve more than as an individual.