Oil magnate and philanthropist Guma Aguiar, the chairman of this year's Jerusalem Conference, spoke Thursday at the Aliya (Immigration) session. Aguiar told the crowd of his journey from Christianity to Judaism and his introduction to Nefesh b'Nefesh, the aliya organization that has brought 18,000 new immigrants from the United States, Canada and Britain in recent years.

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Aguiar compared aliya to ascending a ladder, and asked, “What is the true meaning of aliyah? ... There's a ladder... so what's the top of the ladder? What's the ultimate dream?”

The ultimate goal is the Temple, Aguiar said. “The Temple Mount! Nobody else wants to talk about it...” Aliyah must include an understanding of that goal, he said, adding that throughout history Jews have associated the word “aliya” with the Temple, which they longed to see. “You think they were dreaming of coming back here and going and praying at the bottom of the Kotel? I'm sorry. But they weren't!”

Aguiar used his own story to illustrate the point. “After I sold the company, I could have chosen to go to Beverly Hills, or to Aspen, or to Paris—why did I come to Jerusalem?” He asked. “This is another step in the ultimate ladder... we've got to climb the ladder as a Jewish nation. As a Jewish nation we have to get this in our consciousness.”