Don?t Make <i>Aliyah</I>

Anyone from the United States that doesn?t want to make Aliyah ought to have their hearts examined.

Prof. Shmuel Neumann

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Anyone from the United States that wants to make Aliyah ought to have their head examined. They will condemn their children to spend their college years in army service. They will obligate themselves to such odious taxes that their car will cost more than double the showroom price. They will be forced to live in congested apartments, as single-family houses with a front garden and backyard, near a major city, usually costs more than a million dollars. They will subject their family to catastrophic conflict. Their children, as they become Israeli, will be incessantly censured for rude, obnoxious, aggressive, border violations. The parents will always be the immigrants who, with their grating Anglo accent, will become a hideous shame to their children. Careers that took a lifetime to develop will suddenly become obsolete, as the licensing process for most professions poses insurmountable obstacles. It is small wonder that of the 75,000 olim from the United States since 1948, more than half returned.


Anyone from the United States that doesn?t want to make Aliyah ought to have their hearts examined.

For American Jews, the inescapable shame of being Jewish is induced and reinforced with the ebb and flow of indigenous, latent anti-Semitism. Even as Jewish communities become well entrenched, American Jews continue to feel like a stranger in a strange land. Their core is permeated with the shame of being the condemned wandering Jew. Every day, they pray for the end of the exile and return of all Jews to Israel, yet with every attack upon Israel by their government, it seems more and more like a futile pipe dream.

Religious practice is difficult. Jews must constantly negotiate time off for Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Those that are not observant have a better-than-even chance that their children will intermarry. As a society, they are barely surviving, as the Jewish population dwindles due to intermarriage and because many opt for a perpetual single lifestyle.

American Jews struggle to pay for things that in Israel are free: Jewish education, health insurance, disability insurance, etc. To keep afloat, most families require both the husband and wife to work full time. People that they wouldn?t trust to park their car suddenly become worthy of raising their children.

An overwhelming sense of futility permeates their life, so that idealism is nothing more than an ivory tower abstract concept. On the other hand, making any change represents too much of a struggle. So they just float.

How do you know when a fish in a stream is alive? It is those that stand up to the pressure and stand their position, or even swim upstream. Those that just float along are dead or almost dead. Life is replete with obstacles and pressures and a measure of one?s success in life is how well they stand up to pressure.

We have survived two millennia of horrors unknown to any other peoples on this Earth. We endured the expulsions, exterminations and tortures for a reason: To rebuild the decimated Jewish nation. After two thousand years of victimhood, it is not an obligation, but a privilege for Jewish boys to carry machine-guns and stand up for themselves. It is not a burden, but an honor to economically support, by paying the exorbitant taxes, those who implement covert operations against anti-Semites worldwide. It is a society that converts the miles-high pile of shame to a pride in being Jewish that borders on arrogance. It is a country that shoulders responsibility for Jews worldwide. It is not just the Entebbe rescue, or going after Mengele in Argentina, but in finding the Ethiopian Jews in the midst of civil wars and famines and rescuing them, and absorbing a million Soviet Jews who were on the verge of extinction by the anti-religious communists.

As a believing Jew, I believe that the Holy Land chooses who will immigrate and who may remain in Israel. And everyone who moves here has to pay a price, and it may be the ultimate price. Yet, in the Shema prayer, we are commanded to love the Almighty will all our hearts, possessions and life. We are commanded to die to sanctify his name in specific situations.

I believe a Jew who makes Aliyah, especially a Jew that makes Aliyah to Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha), fully cognizant of the sacrifices and challenges ahead of him, can say Shema every day not as an abstract intellectual exercise, but by living it.

Although housing is affordable in Yesha, with a single-family home usually below $100,000, transportation is inadequate. Unlike most places in Israel, hitch-hiking is a way of life, but sometimes the wait is hours. The security situation within the community is better than in the cities, but periodically there are warnings and residents are asked to lock their doors and remain inside. Most Israelis and almost all Americans consider you stupid or crazy.

Yet, after suffering all the indignities of living in these places, there is a deep satisfaction for standing up to adversity in clinging to the Land that you and the Almighty love.

Ironically, the standard of living is higher in many respects. Whereas a one family home near Jerusalem or near Tel Aviv costs close to a million dollars, houses in Yehuda and Shomron are often less than a hundred thousand dollars. In a new community being established near Barkan with very large houses, it still costs only around $300,000. A new suburb of Elkana is being established with building lots of over an acre (5 dunam) with prices in the $150,000 to $300,000 range. Small cooperative farms are available for the taking.

There are about six and a half million dunam in Yehuda and Shomron. There are about six and a half million Jews in America (counting Jews that intermarried, as they are still Jews by Jewish law). Yehuda and Shomron is their birthright; their President insists it be bequeathed to cutthroat terrorists.

American Jews have an option of crystallizing their Jewish identity and living in a society that makes them not only not self-conscious of their Jewishness, but proud of it. They will finally feel at home. They only need to assert their birthright, to fulfill the commandment "You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you I have given the Land to possess it." (Bamidbar 33:53)

While Bush thinks that he can force Sharon to kick out 200,000 Jews from their houses in Yehuda and Shomron, he would have second thoughts about trying to kick out two million American citizens who happen to be Jewish and who elect to have a vacation home in Yehuda and Shomron. He would have to defend against two million civil rights cases, which would take several lifetimes. American Jews can save the day, change the course of history and finally have a sense of wholeness.

Don?t make Aliyah

But Aliyah can make you.