A group from Ukraine traveling in Israel this week
A group from Ukraine traveling in Israel this weekCourtesy of Birthright Israel

I’ve come to terms with the sad reality we live in today where a US president seems eager for war with Russia. US President Joe Biden came into office calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a killer. He basically lured Putin into a war with Ukraine, suggesting it was inevitable and making little effort to avoid it.

Then Biden called Putin a war criminal, twice. Last Friday Biden said Putin “cannot remain in power,” suggesting that the Russian government should be toppled. Top this off with Biden speaking to US troops, suggesting they will be sent to Ukraine.

Biden seems to have his eyes set on Russia, vying for an opportunity to topple its government and take control of the former Soviet Union, as if Russia were just another central American country in America’s backyard.

Were it not for the international and domestic support Biden has secured in his campaign against Russia, I would suggest this to be the classic case of a senile man speaking words of little consequence. Unfortunately, Biden has the free world behind him, marching blindly into his jolly old world war.

Well, you won’t see me marching to that tune. In fact, I have other things on my mind now.

Aliyah Now

Ukraine can go to the dogs. All Jews need to get out now. Even Russia is no place for Jews to be these days. Ukrainian and Russian Jews should abandon these temporary homes of theirs and come to Israel. Israel is your home.

The real war for us is over Ukrainian and Russian Jews, for their survival and safety, and to bring them to Israel. We have a mildly Jewish state in practice, but Israel is a refuge for all Jews in need of one. In Israel, a Jew can belong, in the Land of our forefathers.

Israel is our only inheritance in the world. Those other lands do not belong to us. Their problems are not our problems. Their wars are not our wars. We do not need to die with them in their battles or suffer for their sins. We may live our own lives in Israel.

Come home to a Land that is yours. Come home to Israel.

Set Aside Halakhic Arguments

Now, in my opinion, is not the time to scrutinize over who is a Jew. We know the stories of Jews in exile. We know well about Jewish assimilation and intermarriage. We know that most Jews are not observant. We know that many Jews are barely Jewish, and many more are merely the descendants of Jews, not considered to be Jews by all, certainly not by Jewish law.

Well, it’s nice to know, but put those arguments aside for now. Will you tell a Jewish grandfather to leave his children and grandchildren behind, particularly when fleeing a war zone?

Perhaps he lost his grandparents in the Holocaust. Perhaps his parents were taken to the Gulag. Perhaps he was forced to abandon his religion and accept the new identity he was given. Somehow, he remained a Jew. Will you tell him otherwise?

Perhaps he is the last of his family. All that is left of generations of Jews before him are him and his children and his grandchildren. He wants to come to Israel with them. Let them in. Send out our armies to rescue them. Bring them back on the wings of eagles. Rescue them from death and destruction. Bring them home to Israel.

Are Western Jews Any Better?

Western Jews have the same problems of assimilation and intermarriage. Their children are increasingly less Jewish as the years go by. The difference is that they were not forced into this. They were not forced to abandon their Judaism. They assimilate and intermarry willingly.

Another difference is that Western Jews are less inclined to move to Israel. They are not refugees. They do not see a need to make Aliyah in their masses as the Russian and Ukrainian Jews have. Were they to do so, we would have the same issues with them; concerns about letting in Jews who are not recognized as Jews and who hardly see themselves as Jews anymore.

That is a problem we will have regardless of where Jews may be. We need to educate our people and teach our children, whether they be in Israel or in the diaspora. We need to make a greater effort for their sake, and we need to stop thinking of abandoning them.

We are not a nation so rich in people that we should want to abandon anyone. Were we to focus only on the 10% or so orthodox Jews and abandon the rest, we would not have a country anymore. Israel exists on the backs of all Jews and their children, and we need to protect and preserve them.

Ukrainian and Russian Jews Welcome

Having only one Jewish grandparent is enough for me, when Jews are in jeopardy. So long as they ask to make Aliyah as Jews, they are entitled to make Aliyah under the Israeli Law of Return. We do not need to question that right or take it away from them. We need to welcome them warmly to Israel, back to the Land and the people they have lost.

Teaching lost Jews and nurturing them back to Judaism is the next step, but this should be done with the thought that they are at least a quarter Jewish by blood. They are not gentiles who are being converted. They are lost Jews who need to be brought back into the fold.

We need to break down the walls of division in Israel, to restore Jewish pride. That pride exists when Jews are brought back. Not when they are turned away or abandoned.

Yshai Amichai is a father of six and an author with a legal education, whose books advocate upholding the Torah as a national Constitution. His articles are not all Torah-related and include his own opinions. He may be contacted at: [email protected]