Rabbi Leo Dee
Rabbi Leo DeeCourtesy

Two weeks ago I was invited to speak on a panel for Emergency Aliyah in Jerusalem. I told the story of how our family came to live in Efrat. One morning in 2009, when we'd completed less than one year of our 6 years shlichut in England, my beloved wife Lucy woke up and said we must buy a home in Efrat. Why? Surprisingly, she said, “Because the shekel may get stronger against the pound and house prices in Efrat may go up faster than London.” This was strange because Lucy knew nothing about real estate or currency exchange. But it was her dream, so what could I do?

So we sold our London home and off I went to Efrat in Feb 2010, leaving Lucy and five kids in England. I saw every house in the then new suburb of Zayit, sending pictures back to Lucy by internet from my hotel room each night. She chose a house that seemed right for our needs. And I bought it. At that time, I could have bought three homes in Efrat for the price of one home in London. Today our home is worth twice what that same home in London is worth.

Allow me to make another down-to-earth comment. Americans normally spend a fortune on health insurance. Clearly the insurance market makes a profit because the cost of your premiums is greater than the expected cost of all the treatment you will need until you are 120. But you purchase medical coverage because there is a 1 in a 1,000 chance that Chas VeShalom you’ll have an illness that will cost $1million+ to cure. So you cover yourself.

If you think that there’s a 1 in 1000 chance of America not being a place for Jews to live in the next few years, or even for your children or grandchildren - wouldn’t it be worth taking an insurance policy about coming to Israel? Shouldn’t everyone in this community have an Aliyah plan ready for action if things do get worse? Isn’t it worth getting your close family around the kitchen table in the next month to discuss what Aliyah might look like, if you haven’t done this already? What kind of housing would we need? Where? How do we care for grandma and grandpa? For the children in high school and college?

The truth is - Israel needs you. I can’t tell you how frequently I hear not yet observant Israelis returning from a trip to the US where they’ve been hosted in a community like Teaneck and they say, “If we had a community like this in Israel we’d want to be a part of it” You all have so much to offer.

And Israel is your home. When we get to Olam Haba and are asked “Tzipita leYeshua?” “Did you yearn for the Salvation in your time?” It won't be whether we donated to the UJA or came three times a year to the Citadel Hotel on holiday, it will be “Did we make the bold move to actually return home?”

Israel is the country where the Jewish government and Jewish army are there to protect you. It may not be 100% foolproof but they exist. That may not be the case in the US.

It may seem strange coming from me, after what happened to my family and what happened on 7th October to be advocating Israel as a safe space. But remember, before the modern state of Israel, 6 million Jews were killed in 6 years, one million per year. And countless millions over the previous centuries in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Spain, Rome, Greece and Egypt. The only thing that stands between us and total annihilation is Eretz Yisrael. We are all safer and the world is safer because of Israel.

And Hashem is calling us all home. The open antisemitism that we are witnessing now in America is a bracha - Hashem is giving us a warning to act now whilst property prices are at an all-time high. Hashem has sent us two boats and a helicopter. Let’s hear the message.

In late October, I was in London, Trafalgar Square - the 100,000 strong Jewish crowd were chanting “Bring them home.” For the hostages. But also for you. Hashem had us put posters up around the streets of every Jewish town in the world “Bring them home!” Hashem is shouting out to every Jewish man, woman and child in the diaspora. “Bring them home!”

2,000 years ago there was a fire in our national home in the Land of Israel. Our home burnt down. Our family dispersed in a panic all over the globe to run to safety. But let me tell you, our home has been rebuilt with all the latest fire safety devices. It now has sprinklers, alarms, and every modern comfort. It has the biggest heated pool, the Kinneret and its own spa in the Dead Sea. It has a way of turning our kids into mentches - through national service and the army. It's the place where every Jew is valued, where everyone has a role, and a national purpose.

Today, the extended Jewish family is mostly all at home in Israel, and now Hashem is calling all those still in foreign countries to come home. His calls are becoming overwhelming and soon may become unbearable. The times have changed and now the fire is raging outside in the streets. So please listen to His call now. Bring them Home! This is my message to you as well - please come home.