"The Aliyah Revolution Has Begun"

Leading religious leaders from the three major denominations of American Jewry have issued a statement calling for mass Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) from the United States.

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Leading religious leaders from the three major denominations of American Jewry have issued statements calling for mass Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) from the United States.

One recent joint statement was issued to hundreds of North American Olim (immigrants to Israel) who will be arriving this summer in the framework of the Nefesh b’Nefesh organization. Nefesh B'Nefesh lends potential Olim the thousands of dollars they sometimes need to be able to make the move - and the loans become grants if their recipients remain in Israel.

The joint statement reads:
“There are many ways for the Jewish community to connect with Israel and to contribute to the well-being of the Jewish State. Of all these expressions though, fulfilling the mitzvah [biblical commandment] of Aliyah is the highest manifestation of Zionism. This decision, during these challenging times in Israel, is especially admirable. May G-d give you strength to succeed in this most important commitment. We pray that you and your family will enjoy living in the Jewish home in peace and success. Together we congratulate you for your admirable decision.”

The statement was signed by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, head of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Rabbi Jerome Epstein, head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, head of the Reformed Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Another organization, Kumah - Americans Return to Zion, a grassroots group dedicated to encouraging and facilitating mass Aliyah to Israel by all Jews of the exile, released a similar proclamation. It reads as follows:

“‘Our Rabbis learned: One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a city whose majority is idolaters, and he should not live outside the Land of Israel, even in a city with a Jewish majority.’ (Talmud, Tractate Ketubot, p.110b)
"The following Yeshiva deans strongly urge every Jew to seriously consider making Aliyah. We believe that a massive return to our eternal homeland will contribute greatly to an alleviation of all demographic, economic and religious problems in Israel today.
"We urge the entire Jewish Diaspora, particularly the younger generation, to begin viewing Aliyah as a goal rather than an option.”

The proclamation was signed by the late Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, and Rabbis Dr. Moshe David Tendler, Hershel Schachter, Hershel Reichman, Meir Goldvicht, Yosef Blau, former YU President and current chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm and Rabbi Chaim Druckman of Israel.

Other American organizations working on various aspects of North American Aliyah include Tehilla, AACI, the Jewish Agency and Birthright. In Israel, Aloh Na'aleh (email: "aloh-naaleh@aaci.org.il") is a young grassroots initiative that sends emissaries - rabbis, academicians, and others - on speaking-tour trips to promote Aliyah throughout the U.S. and Canada. Rabbi Sholom Gold of Aloh-Naaleh, asked whether Prime Minister Sharon’s goal of bringing another million Jews to live in Israel over the next decade was realistic, told Arutz-7, “Anything that has to do with the Jewish people cannot be looked at from the point of view of what’s realistic or not realistic. I always tell my congregation that the law in modern Jewish history is ‘expect the unexpected.’ No one expected the Russian Aliyah. All of a sudden it happened… The only thing that one can safely predict is that within the next few years the largest Jewish community in the world will be in Israel… The center of the Jewish world will be here very soon…"

Kumah’s Ezra HaLevi, who circulated the group's pro-Aliyah statement two years ago, “after the Temple Mount War had broken out but before the floodgates of North American Aliyah had been penetrated by Kumah and Nefesh b’Nefesh,” was thrilled at the release of the multi-denominational statement calling for Aliyah. “Two years ago," he recalled, "when I was collecting signatures for the proclamation, I often felt like I was talking to a wall, as many of our Jewish ‘leaders’ told me to come back to them after I got others to sign it first. Needless to say, I only asked once, and included the signatures of those who had the courage to call for the end of the exile without looking over their shoulders. However, I am filled with hope and joy by the recent developments demonstrating undeniably that the Aliyah revolution has begun.”

Nefesh b’Nefesh brought 550 Jews on Aliyah last summer, and is expecting to triple that number this summer. Three planeloads of North American Jews are scheduled to arrive in the coming months. Kumah continues to stir up “neo-Zionist” fervor across North American campuses with its “Exodus Shabbat Program." It is active in Israel as well, providing free advice, social outlets and activism opportunities, as well as helping new immigrants move to Jewish communities and hilltops in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.





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