However, lets explore the question as to why an Aliyah Community is needed in the first place?
There is an obvious need to maintain an upbeat and positive approach towards guiding our Jewish brothers & sisters home to Israel. Comments on most Aliyah blogs can easily prove the point that many Jews in the Diaspora work better at listing reasons not to move here, than reasons to do so. Conversely, most Jews already living in Israel usually reverse this argument, suggesting more reasons to live in Israel than remain in the Diaspora. Hmmm! Something sounds remarkably odd here. Surely, those who have made the great transition would know better than those who haven't?
However, the die hard Diaspora adherents will be pleased to hear the following: A percentage of Jews do indeed fail to stay in Israel after living here a few years. Is that music to your ears like Wagner's overtures in WW2 Europe? Probably not, as most caring Jews, even in the Diaspora, are most concerned for the welfare of the Jewish state. Accordingly, reasons not to make Aliyah often reflect grassroot concerns about their personal well-being, rather than an ideological stance against Zionism, typical of the Nutrei Karta. So let's address the realistic issue relating to the source of one's unease about moving to Israel. If most Jews in Israel advocate the relative good life of living as a Jew in Israel, than where else can negative concerns creep in? The percentage of Jews returning in 'failure' could certainly be a good starting point. The other source...whinging ex-pat Israelis... do a better job of discrediting themselves, no matter where they decide to live.
AM has been fortunate enough to enter into dialogue with many 'failed' olim (Jews making Aliyah). A common problem that many faced, had to do with a lack of support, when it was most needed. A typical example would be a trip to a governmental department where Hebrew is more prevalent than other languages, or a shopping visit to a supermarket where most products are also listed in Hebrew. Naturally, these examples can be amplified and expanded upon. However, in my humble opinion, this is a 'valid' reason to become stressed out. It happens to most olim whilst struggling to come to grips with learning basic Hebrew phrases. Thankfully, we experienced the wonderful help of passing Israelis with a small understanding of English, and an even greater understanding of compassion, which came to our assistance. Although, that's not always to be relied upon, and no substitute for whatever efforts one can make on a personal basis to strive forward with learning Hebrew. However, it can be a trying experience.
Israel does provide excellent services to assist integration, including the ulpan - free Hebrew learning centers for new arrivals. However, without a wider framework totally geared up for these olim, some will fall through the cracks. I don't endorse humiliating those brave Jews who made Aliyah in the first place and returned at great personal cost. I've been in correspondence with many wishing to return to Israel, and better understand some very simple needs they have that could make all the difference to a more successful Aliyah experience. Therefore to the contrary, I take it as a personal failure myself, that we as an established community were not there for them, when help was most needed and simple to provide, such as assistance in translating a document, directions to a doctor, advice on where to live, etc. However, we may be an established community but do we recognize ourselves as such, with a focal point to rally around?
In keeping with my opening statement, let me now repeat that we do need an upbeat and positive approach towards encouraging Jews to move to the one and only Jewish Homeland in the world...Israel. However, in light of what has been said let me add a third word...'caring'...we also need a caring approach that goes beyond the ability of any one individual to provide. An Aliyah Community has an excellent chance of providing the ideal solution. First, let's briefly examine what else is out there, which can do the required job?
Israel has a 'klitah' a government reception service for olim. Nefesh B' Nefesh, the Jewish Agency, along with other sterling organizations also assists olim. However, let me now share a true story I heard relating to a sad lonely death in London. The year was around 1960, the British government had introduced a proud new welfare system that would benefit all.
An elderly pensioner had starved to death in the heart of London. There was absolutely no reason for him to have done so. As the story was related to me, by an elderly Londoner, none of his neighbors had bothered to check on him. Here comes the punch line - everyone thought the wonderful welfare system would have taken care of him, so didn't think it important to check for themselves! Does that now sound familiar?
An Aliyah Community is urgently needed that comprises of caring individuals, as well as subscribing organizations. However, it needs to be a grassroots venture, driven by those who understand that a caring community begins with shalom bayit (peace at home), and extends outwards to enquiring after your neighbor's well being. Does he or she need help with something that could be fairly straightforward to provide? There are many incredible hesed (kindness) organizations in israel, which one could turn to depending upon the nature of one's challenge.
In a previous article I wrote, one comment asked me somewhat unkindly about what jobs I'm providing myself for new arrivals. That's actually a start, because strip away the expectation of placing everything on one person, individual Jews in Israel can network pretty well together when required. That brings me to the the heart of the matter, we can and should develop an Aliyah Community, which serves as an information network for all!
The good news is that this concept is finding enough support to make it a viable enterprise. An Aliyah Community includes those in the Diaspora who support the idea of Jews making Aliyah in the first place. Accordingly, one doesn't need to be a Jew to subscribe to this concept. Naturally in keeping with encouraging Jews to make Aliyah, this community strongly embraces our brave brothers & sisters who have shaken off the dust of the exile and are currently moving to Israel. It also extends to Jews living in Israel that have arrived from the Diaspora. There is no time limit or geographical limitations on subscribing to an Aliyah Community.
The common factor is that an Aliyah Community can provide a framework for helping each other, no matter what stage of our journey we've encountered.
What do you need to do? Visit our website at Aliyah Magazine. Participate on the AM Aliyah Forum. There is absolutely no cost, not even to your insistence upon remaining in the Diaspora until the messianic magic carpet arrives, although El Al gives free tickets for those making Aliyah now! Please check this out. An Aliyah Community is all about strengthening Israel in the most practical way...encouraging and helping Jews to move to the Jewish Homeland in Israel. Shalom!