Defense/Security 6:57 PM
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Inside Israel 12:16 AM 3/7/2014
Life Lessons with Judy Simon
David Lev produced documentaries and television commercials before making Aliyah in 1999. He then organized Diplomatic Supplements for the Jerusalem Post. Later he led a PR mission to the British Government, aimed at increasing awareness of Israel's terrorist problems. David decided upon more practical measures by serving with a volunteer unit tasked with preventing such attacks. He has won a leading writing award for a competition hosted by A7. David is founder & editor of Aliyah Magazine, dedicated to attracting Jews to live in Israel.
Aliyah Magazine explores the Aliyah process within Israel itself, as well as the important need for Jews to come home. The election of the 19th Knesset, an event covered by both Aliyah Magazine & Israel National News, serves to underline this vital point.
Did Israel just witness the beginnings of a new Jewish revival during the recent elections? From the relative safety of one's political or religious camp, it is easy to avoid embracing a larger picture of what took place, but a brief step outside from that comfort zone can lead to an exhilarating revelation. There appears to be not just a move towards a general center of Israeli society, but towards the actual inner establishment of the Jewish state itself.
I recently had the pleasure of co-producing and hosting a pre-election special, which was aired on Israel National News, amongst other key media networks. We were fortunate enough to have had the presence of party representatives from across the political spectrum. It was widely publicized that a virtual handshake took place at the end of the show between the male Shas representative and the female Meretz candidate. That incident happened after each participant made a unity statement, which encouraged Jews to make Aliyah and cast a vote, for whomever their conscience dictates. Events that followed made that gesture appear almost prophetic in nature. Israeli voters virtually changed the landscape of the nation's political platform, and the call for unity needed to be extended across the board.
So what actually did happen? It would be easy to accuse Lapid's party of hostility towards the religious elements in Israeli society, based on their party stance to draft the Haredim (ultra orthodox). Yet, one of the key participants on our show was Dov Lipman of Lapid's party, Yeish Atid, now a newly elected MK. Actually, he's more correctly entitled as Rabbi Dov Lipman, and that's not a show title, he is a genuine and sincere representative of the Jewish clergy. Uri Banks, representing another surprising newly elected large political block, Bayit ha Yehudi, also wore a yamulke, and his party is also focused upon integrating Jews more into the Jewish state of Israel. So, can that be interpreted as an attack on the important need for Torah scholars? Hardly, considering the equal weight given to the need to maintain the Hesder system, whereby Jews learn in a yeshiva, and serve in the IDF.
However, these are still early days and it's of upmost importance to preserve and guard Jewish religious values as well as issues concerning Jewish sovereignty over the Shomron & Judea. That means closely examining the core issues that led to the nation's swing to its present position, and reminding the newly elected MK's to focus on those key issues, rather than others. A prime example has been ultra orthodox attitudes against serving in the IDF on one hand, and still expecting large grants from the government on the other. Such attitudes can be taken as an insult against the majority of young Israelis who are not exempt from conscription. That is G-d forbid not to say that Torah study should be relegated in any way, but only to apportion more respect towards the need for serving Israel. My concern is that there should be no backlash against the ultra orthodox position in other matters of placing orthodox Judaism in its important place. However, that doesn't negate one's responsibility towards the overall interests of the Israeli nation, specially in regards to IDF service. In this regards, the ultra-orthodox will need to sit up and take notice of their fellow Jews, even if they suffer loss of face and some humility in the process. True Jewish values will eventually surface, meanwhile a better understanding of the nation's need for unity may also eventually surface, albeit with some loss of position on fundamental issues.
The IDF is not an anti-religious body, it is nothing less than the vehicle for serving the very defense of Israel, which allows us to maintain places of Torah study. In some ways, the hot debate between the need for Torah scholarship, without maintaing a viable defense force, is what eventually weakened many Jewish communities prior to WW2. From a truly religious perspective, Jews need both. The problem here really got worst when both sides looked down upon each other. But what added fuel to the fire was an adopted position of leaving the defense of Israel in anyone else's hand, but one's own. Now doesn't that sound familiar, specially for Jews living in the Diaspora?
What is essentially taking place in Israel today is a realization that the status quo cannot be maintained, whereby the burden of public service is unequally distributed. This means a shift towards a more centered position, which can only bring unity where it truly counts, the well being of the Jewish State of Israel. Perhaps, the changing winds might also reach beyond our shores, and help in gathering the rest of our splintered nation back into the fold? Jews need Hashem, but are taught to need and help each other. Hopefully, the coming days will be one of further unity, resulting in a far stronger Israel, both in a spiritual and physical sense.
Is it possible to Google 'Making Aliyah' and really find the answers to what's in your mind? I remember when I first used that search term, in the early days of Google, a long long time ago! In some ways it felt a little like trying to communicate with G-d using a pair of dice. I had no idea what to expect, nor from whom. My mind was like an empty vessel, what I was really searching for was the very tools to help me refine an inner search. After all, isn't making Aliyah all about ascending to a higher level of existence in the first place? Accordingly, I needed to acknowledge my humble starting place from where I would begin such a journey.
That starting place was a somewhat even more difficult location to identify. The Jewish Diaspora can conjure up all sorts of wild notions ranging from a benign haven, to an ever present and growing threat. I had to acknowledge that to varying degrees both concepts held a modicum of truth. I felt the answer laid somewhere in the middle. After all, a softer existence anywhere that provides all the trappings of comfort, can be a hard habit to break. Yet, I discovered a high price to pay for every day of imagined bliss in what I mistook for Utopia. A closer examination of local attitudes served to confirm an unescapable truth. Jews are guests in an adopted land, and sometimes even unwelcome ones. How many Jews living in the Diaspora actually bother to take into consideration local feelings of animosity towards Jews living in their midst? It was far easier to cry foul, and place such attitudes on blatant Anti-Semitism. But does that really get to the heart of the matter. As we find a cluster of other Jews, or local citizens that we have quietly learnt to blend in with, does that genuinely lead us to feeling completely at home?
At this point it is quite correct to bring Israel into the equation. Of course there is extreme hatred towards Jews living in Israel. However, there is a fundamental difference at play. Here we know where we belong, while in the Diaspora we can only play games in pretending that's the case.
So making Aliyah on a fundamental level can be a task of asserting ones' right to ascend to a place of true belonging. Yes, Jews in Israel are certainly more assertive about matters pertaining to one's basic rights of survival in one particular country. It goes beyond a herding instinct of safety in numbers. There is such an underlying sense of belonging to a homeland, that one can only gasp in amazement as to exactly how any Jew can feel even something close to that sensation elsewhere. Here it is body and soul, and extends beyond a survival instinct in matters concerning survival on a comfort level.
In Googling 'Making Aliyah' one can also have in mind economic factors, why not? Everyone should carefully consider economic survival and questions of providing for one's family anywhere in the world. Only in Israel, failure to reach a basic level of income is a far more serious issue. Going down is the exact opposite of making Aliyah, and should be avoided. However, there is also a self defeatist element at play that thrives on negativity in the Jewish Homeland, and needs to be guarded against at all times. That's not to say that one should neglect such matters of extreme importance, but only to place it in better perspective. A Jew living in Israel is akin to a marriage. The land of Israel is a partner to every Jew, and the universal marriage maxim of 'for better or worse' also applies to living in Israel. This involves adopting a positive attitude at the very beginning of tying the knot with Israel.
Therefore, making Aliyah is a lofty enterprise and should be undertaken with the same type of commitment as betrothal. In both cases, we ascend through the hallway of a higher divine presence. In Israel, one needs to have faith in G-d to provide for one's needs. Just like a lack of rain that requires G-d fearing men to fast and pray for water, so there is a need to constantly check in with the one above in times of hardship. The amazing thing is that it can actually work!
This leads to the fundamental question of what we are even doing in the Diaspora in the first place? Well look at the Bible, or even decent history books. Many were displaced from our homeland for insufficient lack of faith in the first place. We have to face the harsh reality that the Diaspora is not our original homeland, and that we are still faced with tests that requires an inner search to help us to rise above them.
Israel is the Jewish Homeland and we have to learn how to make the best of it. If times are hard we need to discover the wonderful path of sharing both our abundance of material blessings as well as voicing our needs, to fellow Jews. We cry out to G-d, but the answer more often than not is delivered through the medium of those living here on earth. We should also listen to the voice of suffering Jews finding it hard to make ends meet in Israel, and strive to help them make a livelihood here. However, we should also be fully aware that other voices trying to dissuade us from making Aliyah, can also be part of our test.
So after entering 'Making Aliyah' don't be surprised to find a range of often disconnected results. But don't lose track of the journey making Aliyah involves, both from the starting point and a more meaningful life in Israel. Jews do not belong in any Diaspora, nor should we turn Israel into one.
Israel is a shared enterprise and G-d willing every Jew will make Aliyah to the full extent of that meaning.
Google just the one word 'Aliyah' and hopefully you'll also find us in the top few pages of your search. Please visit us on Aliyah Magazine
Let's just go with the flow and imagine Jews being settled comfortably anywhere in the world except for Israel? After all, didn't the Jewish Diaspora manage quite well without the moral and emotional intrusion of having a Jewish homeland in Israel to be concerned about? Which flow could one possibly be referring to, if one actually exists?
Amongst a whole host of issues, I also refer to the rationale suggesting that Jews living in Israel are a nation apart, and a different breed of people altogether from other Jews. If you ever read the comments section of many Israel related articles you'll immediately know the kind I mean. "You need to change your leaders before expecting us to make Aliyah" - "Don't expect me to live in a police state" - "If you can't send your children to march into Gaza then I won't be marching into the arrivals terminal at Ben Gurion Airport" And so the list goes on. Well perhaps you've worn me down, maybe you're right after all? We don't need to have voters, have police protect us against rapists and criminals, or even have an IDF at all. In fact, what am I doing in Israel in the first place, surely the real Jewish homeland is out there in the Diaspora. It seems that the majority of Jews have got it right after all, which leads to the ultimate conclusion, why bother with Israel in the first place?
I began by thinking about some of the positive consequences of reaching that state of affairs. Muslims and Nazis would be nice to Jews. Jonathan Pollard would be a free man and not the target of patriotic American Jews, who feel that their religious ranks were betrayed by his loyalty to a Jewish state instead of solely to the USA. Jews could serve in their own country's defence forces, and even fight against other Jews in the process, after all, it's not like anyone has a shared homeland to unite around. Revisionist Judaism could go well beyond their German predecessors in substituting Berlin for Jerusalem. Our prayers could just be directed towards the national capital of the country we happen to live in.
Most important of all, Jews won't have to feel like their easing their conscience by supporting Israel from afar, they can direct their love for Judaism to the Jewish Diaspora...the Jewish Homeland.
Well, we're going to be discussing this idea plus lot's more on Israel National News' next live interactive broadcast event. Aliyah Fever is returning after the recent Hanukah show produced for Arutz Sheva by Israel Vibes. Join us live on Arutz Sheva tomorrow night - Wednesday December 19th at 7pm Israel time. Your comments can even be made live on air where we can see you! You are also invited to visit Aliyah Magazine where you can discover if I really did succumb to the idea of a Jewish Homeland in the Diaspora.
Join a live international Hanukkah party and interact with everybody!
Hanukkah is here again, but have we yet got its full message? How many can truly celebrate an event that has its very roots in the abandoning of foreign customs? Fortunately, this year Chanukkah will be a time for healing rifts between Jewish communities embedded in the most assimilated customs found in the Diaspora, with Jewish communities in Israel, often facing its own challenges in trying to maintain a life based on Torah Judaism.
Aliyah Magazine is joining forces with Arutz Sheva, the Orthodox Union of America, Nefesh b Nefesh, and many more, to promote an amazing new event called the Hanukkah Revival.
However one looks at it, there is no denying that the outcome of the Macabean revolt against estranged Judaism, led to the rededication of our Temple in Jerusalem, and that's firmly placed in Israel, center of the Jewish world. Therefore, this year it behoves us all to rekindle some of that original flame from the Temple, when we light our our own individual candles. But is there even more we can do?
On Sunday 9th December at 9pm Israel time (7pm GMT / 2pm EST) we invite all to attend a pilot event that could literally light up all of our candles to shed its glow around the whole Jewish world. Utilizing the latest media technology, this event will not only allow you to see a live broadcast from your homes, but also to directly interact with some of your favorite personalities.
The event will include serious thought provoking discussions, live music, and above all some serious fun!
Hanukkah Revival is presented by Israel Vibes, interactive broadcasting event producers, and that is a name designed to travel far & wide!
Stay tuned in by seeing Aliyah Magazine or Israel National News for regular updates about how to get your free invite into this awesome event. Maybe, you want to also invite us to join your own individual party on that night, or play a song live? Just contact us here. Jews know how to party, and this is one ocassion when we'll do plenty of that.
Sure, I can almost hear the thoughts twittering inside your brain. "How can any sane and rational Jew even consider making Aliyah at a time like this?'" And guess what, on one level you are right! But, deep down inside every Jew there is buried the DNA of truth, which when properly activated reveals the innermost reality. Jews are connected to Israel as a heart is connected to a body.
I know that caring Jews are also suffering with the plight of their people living in Israel. The very fact of tuning into the latest news is akin to feeling the need to be closeby, isn't that like the heart circulating the essense of life around its host?
Is it hard being in Israel right now, aren't the dangers real? Of course. After all, we are also sane and rational people. However, over here the heart and body are better connected. The heart of course is Hashem and the body is Am Israel. Yet bodily limbs and organs work best in close proximity to each other. Jews stretched out across the vast Diaspora are also further away from the heart & soul of their people. We know from our Torah that the eyes of Hashem is constantly upon Israel. Nothing is beyond the reach of Hashem, but is the same true of those who extend the reach themselves to Israel by remaining so far away?
Many Jews can also reasonably question our leadership challenges during times of war. In my opinion, even this has something to do with Jews remaining in the Diaspora. Even amongst the most secular Jews in Israel, there is a feeling of absolute strength and righteousness. This sensation permeates through the ranks of our IDF and security forces. We are less afraid then those outside of Israel to act accordingly. Brakes are needed on military vehicles because we are so driven to forging ahead in war! So what holds us back to carry out some actions, outside of military strategy?
Sadly, there is a vicious cycle at play. World leaders are often subject between two voices representing the Children of Israel, either local Jews, or those based in Israel. Usually Jews placed closer to the local seat of government win out. They in turn have to be mindul of a PR war, which Israel lost decades ago. Therefore, while Israel would seek to use such Jews as representatives, this conduit can also serve the interests of foreign governments, often concerned about local PR already in the hands of Israel's enemies. What a doomed task! Hence, Israeli policy can sometimes be subject to a foreign idealogy, with Jews in the Diaspora playing an active part.
Other prominent Jewish voices raise self-righteous moral concerns and willingly join in their adopted nations' chorus of condemnation against any Israeli act that is based upon strength. Sure we get support when we're kicked on the ground, but the body doesn't survive very long under such continous blows. So what can you do, maybe cry out against injustice? Let's face it dear readers, Internet forums are as close as many ever get towards doing something for Israel.
Contrary to popular belief that Israel's well being depends upon Jewish supporters in the Diaspora, I would offer a counter claim. Israel's weakness stems from an over exposure to the Diaspora mentality. This holds true from both Israelis concerned about our standing abroad, as well as Jews living overseas...themselves torn between divided loyalties.
For every Jew making a decision to come home at this hour of need, certain after-effects will surely happen. First and foremost, that individual Jew will find more inner comfort and peace of mind being closer to his people. Next, his very action creates an impression that Jews belong in Israel, and in doing so endorse our right to be here. Third, even one single Jew being with his people serves to strengthen us. Such a move sends a message that viewing Israel's fate from the Diaspora, and through their eyes, is no longer acceptable.
I can fully understand your fears. As I write this I'm waiting for my wife to find her way home after working in an office overlooking the bus which terrorists attacked today in TA. She was even stranded in the building while a hunt went on for one suspect thought to have been inside. My dear son is standing by near Gaza. I do my own part. Yet we all chose to be in Israel at this moment! There is a closeness among our people that is almost tangible and far exceeds feelings of fear & despair that can play on the minds of Jews living in the Diaspora, and caring about Israel
You heart is here, now bring yourself over and make the ultimate connection. True peace exists when Jews are in their Jewish Homeland. G-d willing,we will prevail and totally vanquish our enemies. Am Yisrael Chai!