In the modern history of Israel, immigrations often came in great waves. There were the waves of aliyah from Europe, then Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, Russia, Ethiopia, Argentina, France, and many more.
The fall of 2012 saw the start of a new great wave.
Meet the Village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, population 41,496.
Or rather 41,490. Between August and October, six people who grew up in Buffalo Grove made aliyah, including your humble blogger. Our ages range from 18 to 24. We are from five different families, came to Israel on five different flights, and now live in four different cities.
The unique thing about the Buffalo Grove Aliyah, compared to most past waves of aliyah, is that in the past the Jews were fleeing to Israel. As Jeremiah said, “They shall return from an enemy’s land” (31:15). But no one chased us from Buffalo Grove. In my entire childhood, maybe one time a Canada goose hissed at me, and I don’t think it knew that I’m Jewish.
In fact, Buffalo Grove is now on its third consecutive Jewish mayor. Roughly one in three people there are Jewish. During the winter holiday season, most of the houses in my neighborhood don’t have Christmas lights.
So what prompted the Buffalo Grove Aliyah?
All six of us olim were raised in Religious Zionist homes. We all spent many years attending Northwest Suburban Chabad, a synagogue with an Israeli atmosphere. Five of us went to Ida Crown Jewish Academy, in Chicago, IL, for high school, where love for Israel is part of the religious life, and then after graduation spent a year in Israel in yeshivah or seminary.
A few months before my aliyah, I published an essay in Kol Hamevaser, “Why I Could Not Live Anywhere Else,” explaining my personal motivation for making aliyah. The importance of the Land of Israel in the Jewish tradition is overwhelming. Becoming Israeli is one of the greatest steps in the course of Jewish history. Every time I’m asked to present my new Israeli ID card, I feel a rush of pride: imagine if Moshe Rabbeinu, or Rabbi Zeira, or Rabbi Yehudah Halevi, or Rabbi Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal could see this ID!
And I think I speak for most North American olim when I say that Israel simply feels like home.
The Buffalo Grove Aliyah isn’t over. Some of our family members are working on aliyah plans. I hope they bring many more people along.