Am I the only one around here who has been following the Jamie Geller aliya saga on JoyofKosher.com videos? If I am let me update. Geller is the self proclaimed “Bride who Knew Nothing” author of two bestselling cookbooks and the founder of the Joy of Kosher website and magazine.
Her forte is easy cooking. She is “the only cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen.” Whether or not her recipes work isn’t my subject. What interests me is Geller herself and her recent decision to move here to Israel, accompanied by Hubbie and five young children.
When he dreamed of the Jewish state, Herzl imagined that all us Chosen People would be clammoring to live here. Of course that wasn’t the case. While the demographers tell us that half the world Jewish population lives in Israel, that is due to a relatively high birth rate, rather than waves of immigration.
Even record-high US unemployment and astronomical day school tuitions haven’t been enough to lure large numbers of US Jews to accept the generous grants Nefesh BeNefesh doles out to American olim.
And that is no wonder. The Talmud says that the Land of Israel is acquired through suffering. Aliya is no easy thing. From securing employment and housing to finding schools for the kids to just figuring out how to shop in the makolet, an oleh’s existence is tough and precarious. That is why Jews who don’t have a compelling need to escape their host countries don’t generally come.
The Jews live well in America — on the video the Gellers said goodbye to a sprawling mansion. US Jews can practice their religion, live anywhere they wish, and hold down any job they qualify for.
And here in Israel? While a relatively small group enjoys the fruits of the “start-up nation,” the rest of us struggle a great deal, especially olim.
And then there is the political situation. We’ve got Iranian missiles pointing at our heads, a civil war in Syria threatening to seep in from across the border and a less-than-friendly indigenous Palestinian population.
In his inimitable style, Rabbi Amnom Yitzhak is rumored to have said that if every Palestinian would throw one spitball our way we would all drown.
Given all the reasons not to come, isn’t it amazing that the Gellers have come at all. In the video, Geller doesn’t say one word about her reasons for wanting to live here. One senses that the move is the expression of a deep inner yearning to live in the place where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs walked, where the Shehina still rests and where the Final Redemption will begin.
Bruchim Haba’im and best of luck!