A letter to my US Rabbi - please don't wait any longer

Think how wonderful it would be to see entire congregations, led by their Rabbis, making Aliyah. Op-ed.

Yoav Shlomo ben Avraham ,

Aliyah (illustration)
Aliyah (illustration)

Dear Rabbi,

I wanted to write to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an amazing part of our family’s journey. Sarah and I moved to the Boston area years ago hardly knowing anyone, and you made us feel welcomed in such a special way. We are grateful to Hashem for the davening we did together, for your shiurim, and for all of the ways you helped our family in times of need.

We are quickly approaching our 2-year Aliyah anniversary, and I am constantly humbled by the fact that we have the honor of living here due in large part to the support and encouragement from leaders like you. We arrived in Israel with only a few hundred dollars in the bank and what we were able to fit into our suitcases, yet it was the Emunah we have in Hashem, which was strengthened by our time in the Jewish community with you, that gave us the ability to keep working hard and thrive here in the face of challenges. In just two years we have seen our family grow ever deeper in our relationship with Hashem, His Torah, His land, and with each other.

As we keep moving forward, we often think about the communities we came from, and it has been extremely hard to see the news from America. Seeing our fellow Jews in the diaspora attacked in such cruel ways is sickening. I have been reflecting on our former lives outside of Israel a lot and have been hit with the weight of the absolute love that Hashem has for Eretz Yisrael; how the sin of the Golden Calf was forgiven (!) but the refusal to enter the land – our Eternal Home – was not forgiven.

I look at the Jews around me studying Torah and working their professions then think, “What a tikkun! What a Kiddush Hashem for us the have this merit to live in a time when a Jew can live in Eretz Yisrael and un-do that terrible sin of the spies! To be able to follow the example of Calev and Yehoshua to not only speak up for this land – this gift from Hashem – but to go in and do mitzvot that can only be done here! To work hard to build up this beautiful land that Moshe Rabbeinu himself longed to live in, but was not able to!”

So with a sincere, loving heart and with great humility, I want to personally ask you, and your community (which we are very grateful to have been a part of), to join us in Aliyah! Of course, I know from personal experience that this is no small thing to say! Yet I believe to the depths of my soul as I’ve watched events unfold these last two years that the time of the punishment of exile is over, and Hashem has indeed provided us the “wings of eagles” - El Al planes! - to bring us “with upright pride to our land.”

I say this with urgency because I spent several years volunteering at the Boston Holocaust and Human Rights center, getting to know a survivor named Sonia Weitz, z"l, who wrote the memoir I Promised I Would Tell. I learned so much about the history of the Shoah while I worked there, and I see what is happening in America, the UK, etc. is all too similar to the environment of Europe at that time.

I see hashtags such as #hitlerwasright trending online, “Blame the Jews” spray painted on walls, then physical attacks on my brothers and sisters in broad daylight and every fiber of my being cries out, “It’s time to come Home! This is now an issue of Pekuah Nefesh!” The accusations of ‘dual-loyalty’ will never stop, and I see the obvious answer: if all of the Jews come home to Eretz Yisrael, it’s not an issue anymore! And no longer will we need to rely on outside police forces to try to protect us (from the riots last year we see the police are not always able to stop the violence), but instead here in Israel we can walk tall with pride knowing that we are living as free Jews defending each other.

Continuing on a positive note, again I think of the amazing tikkun it would be to see entire congregations, led by their Rabbis, making Aliyah and helping each other to reach levels of success beyond expectations here in the Holy Land. I know there are synagogues being built, large Jewish Community centers, Yeshivas and personal properties that Jews in the Diaspora need to take into account.

But imagine the incredible opportunities that Hashem can bring to reality through our actions if Jews sold their properties and schools and synagogue buildings, and use those millions of cumulative dollars to aid everyone in the community to make Aliyah. New communities could be established around the country so friends and family members could stay together, and these Olim groups from around the world can work together to thrive here in Torah learning and parnassah.

This is so much more hopeful than waiting until the threat to Jewish lives drives them out of their homes and Shuls in the diaspora and all of those financial resources are potentially lost!

Again, my family and I know from experience that Eretz Yisrael is acquired through challenges. So many people who leave the Exile to come Home have to start over in a smaller living space, in an apartment or caravan, and have to work a job that is not what they expected. I’ve gone from doing the landscaping work I love at a Jewish Community center in America to sitting in a chair doing online customer support. OK, not the most amazing thing, but at the same time I am hearing my kids speaking fluent Hebrew now, and seeing my wife flourishing in a profession that she discovered after making Aliyah!

We don’t know what the future holds for our family, but I can tell you that waking up saying ‘Modeh Ani’ with our children here, in the land Hashem commands us to live in, is the greatest miracle of our lives. It is taught that our mitzvot will bring the coming of Mashiach sooner, and what better way to do that than living here where there are so many more mitzvot that we can ONLY do here!

As I once heard Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism say after he returned to Israel from his time as Chief Rabbi of Indonesia: “Outside of Israel you practice Judaism, but here in Israel you live Judaism.”

In closing, I want to thank you again for being such an amazing inspiration to us, and I hope that we will soon see you, and the rest of the Jewish communities from around the world, here in Eretz Yisrael – Our Home.

Yoav Shlomo ben Avraham