American Aliyah: Joining Judaism and Israel Under Fire
For Malachi and Tanya Avital Ben-Yehuda of Riverdale, New York, terrorist rockets peppering southern Israel were inconsequential compared to their firm dedication to the Jewish faith and homeland.
The Ben-Yehuda's, an African-American couple who converted to Judaism four years ago, made aliyah (immigration) to Israel on July 21, even as counter-terror Operation Protective Edge continued and terror rocket attacks raged.
Not only did they immigrate - they arrived at an absorption center in Be'er Sheva in the south where rockets have been falling frequently, and they plan to move to Ashkelon which has been a main target of Hamas. Arutz Sheva joined the couple on their aliyah flight.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva in New York before departing to the Holy Land, Malachi, a 55-year-old former American serviceman, recalled how their rabbi was surprised by their decision, saying "you want to make aliyah? You just converted!"
For Malachi the decision was obvious. "We wouldn't change it for the world, we wouldn't go back, even at this time, we want to go forward," stated the new immigrant.
"We love the land of Israel," Malachi said while on his aliyah flight approaching Israel. After being around the world, he recalled how he and his wife arrived in Israel and "just wanted to kiss the ground, and I just felt like I was a part of the land, like I was supposed to be here, and my wife feels the same way."
Tanya, a 51-year-old retired New York City corrections office, concurred, saying "we understand the situation that's going on, and we've chosen to live here. We've chosen to show the terrorists that we're not afraid and that we support Israel."
"This is the best time to come," added Malachi, noting the strong message of making aliyah under fire.
In the month of July, 546 American Jews made aliyah unintimidated by the Hamas rocket fire, including a flight of 109 "Lone Soldiers" immigrating and immediately beginning their army service. The aliyah has been aided by Nefesh B'Nefesh.
Arutz Sheva will cover the next aliyah flight in a live broadcast on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. Israeli time.