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The era of aliya is not over


“That too will pass” is a well-known quote made popular many years ago. The quote highlights a message we all live with, showing us how fluid life can be and how what we once thought was common or taken for granted may no longer be.

Nothing is forever. The world is constantly evolving and changing to keep pace with the ever-changing pace of new and updated reality. We can see that in the development of music for example – the changes and developments that have been made from the tape recorder, record player and CD players, compared to what we have today. This too will pass like so many others before him. Outside with the old and with the new.

Recently, these “this too will pass” claims have also permeated values ​​that have been taken for granted throughout Jewish history, such as the importance of aliya to the Land of Israel.

“The time for that too has passed,” we are told. “Aliyah is an old-fashioned value. It worked in the 1920s and 1930s, but today Jews can live anywhere in the world and that’s perfectly fine. Aliya is not necessary.

To tell the truth, all does not pass. There are values ​​that are engraved in the heart of the nation, and if they are removed, the heart itself will stop beating too.

The desire of the Jewish nation to live in the Land of Israel is an eternal value. From the day our ancestor Abraham heard the call “Lech Lecha”, the Jews turned their gaze to Israel and dreamed of living there. After being exiled, we dreamed of going back.

Aliyah, that arduous journey from his temporary home in exile to the homeland of Israel, has taken various forms over the years. In ancient times, Jews rode on camels and donkeys, later on boats crossing the seas, and today by plane. But the goal was always the same: to make Israel’s aliya and make it the paradise it deserves to be.

The leaders of Zionism deeply understood this point and saw aliya as the cornerstone of the national renaissance of the Jewish people. Jabotinsky considered the Jewish presence in foreign lands to be the secret of “the history of all murderous riots”; other leaders have devoted all of their energy to clearing the way to Israel, overcoming its obstacles, igniting the fire of aliya in the hearts of the Jews, and turning their gaze to the one place in which the Jews have a total faith: Israel, our home.

“Who despises the day of the little ones? Contempt is for jokers who despise the small days, ”exclaimed national poet Hayim Nahman Bialik in 1894, paraphrasing a verse from Zechariah 4:10. “Let your people flee and create tools until we hear the name of God resound on the mountain tops and have our salvation. Make your aliya.

For years, I have accompanied the new olim in the complex and miraculous process of their arrival in Israel. We veteran Israelis have an extremely important role to play in helping the olim truly feel at home here. Whether it is immigrants from Ethiopia or France, Russia or Iraq, the United States or Iran – the difficulty of building a new life in a foreign place is enormous. They need our help, and it is our duty to provide that to them.

An interesting phenomenon that I have noticed over the years is that it is not just the new olim who need the help of native Israelis. Native Israelis also need the help of the new olim – and perhaps even more than the newcomers need their native counterparts. The novelty of these olim and the new perspective from which they look at Israel may also clarify our perspective a bit, which may have become blurred due to habit and routine.

The excitement that seizes the olim the first time they visit the Western Wall is one of the most infectious feelings I have ever felt. Their enthusiasm tends to spill over to those who have been to the Western Wall even dozens of times in their lives. The joy with which new immigrants roll Hebrew words on their tongues – even ordinary words like “hello”, “I”, “road” or “book”, can remind us of how beautiful this ancient language is even to those who have always talked about this.

In fact, their supreme effort to settle in the Land of Israel reminds us of what we sometimes forget: what an immense privilege we have to be born and to live our life in the Land of Israel.

ALIYAH DAY begins Tuesday evening. This day can be similar to many other days that have been given a special “day” in the national calendar, a day when empty statements will be heard about the importance of aliyah – but nothing will be done.

However, it can also be a day when we, the veteran citizens of Israel, will change our usual existence. We are committed to helping new olim, each according to their abilities and their environment. We will also try to get help from them by adopting their positive outlook on Israel, their new home, and becoming more “new” to our comfort zone and our home as well.

The aliya miracle is as relevant and important today as it was a hundred years ago and as it was a thousand years ago. Those who claim that the time for contact between Jews and their country is over should be despised. Aliyah must be placed at the top of the nation’s priorities.

Not because anti-Semitism makes life difficult for Jews around the world, not because milkshakes in Israel are cheaper and not because the weather here is comfortable. Here, and only here, is the house. We appeal to all of our brothers and sisters around the world: The State of Israel awaits you today, as it has always expected.

Our desire for you to join us here has not and will not pass. Join us! Make your alyah!

The writer is president of the World Zionist Organization, elected at the 38th Zionist Congress in October 2020, having previously served as vice president. He has served as acting chairman of the Jewish Agency’s executive since July 2021.

Yaakov Hagoel will present at the Jerusalem Post annual conference. To watch live on October 12 (or see the recording anytime after), click here.

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