Two days ago, I posted “Get the Hell out NOW” as my response to Jews in France. Today, I’d like to post the other half of my message.
My message was that they should get out of France – one could argue that they could accomplish this task simply by going to England or the United States. Yes, I made it clear that I wanted them to come to Israel, but mainly, I focused on why they should leave. So, part 2 of my comment relates to why French Jews should make aliyah now?
I don’t know when this will actually get posted to Times of Israel – there has been a delay in recent months because of a new way they handle blog posts – but at this moment, as I write, there is a funeral going on a short distance away. I had hoped to attend but a client came through with an urgent pre-deployment problem and so here I am watching it live on my computer, feeling so sad for their families, for lives cut short, for Jews who died in distant lands.
Thousands of Israelis are attending the funerals of four French Jews murdered in Paris. The President of Israel and the Prime Minister of Israel are there. At this moment, after having sung Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel, they are taking the bodies from the platform for burial. So many members of our Knesset accompany them and many family members – and thousands upon thousands of regular Israelis who never met them and yet want to show the families our love, our support. This is Israel; this is why you should come.
My children are all where they should be. One was in miluim [reserve duty] yesterday, but returned home last night to his wife and baby; another is at work at a hi-tech company in Jerusalem, my younger daughter is in school, my youngest son on his way back to yeshiva after joining us to attend a family wedding. I have no fear when they leave our home, when they go shopping. Yes, there are terrorists here in Israel, as there are in Paris and around the world – but for every terrorist, there are soldiers and police, and others all around who are trained to act quickly.
Earlier this week, I took my daughters and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren shopping. Everywhere around us, people naturally spoke Hebrew. I can’t tell you how many Israeli flags I passed, flying high and proud – on buildings, on cars, on homes. This is why you should come.
I can’t tell you how many people proudly wore Jewish stars, how many men wore kippot and tzitzit – without fear, without hesitation. In every neighborhood where I live, there are parks for the children. The city is in the middle of erecting large tarps on poles to shade the children from the strong Middle Eastern sun while they play. This too is why you should come.
Beyond the beauty of our land, is the beauty of its people. Some say Israelis are pushy, sometimes intrusive – and yet they don’t complain when we push ourselves to save others. When we reach across the world…and get there first no less…to build field hospitals and just get down to business and do what has to be done to save lives.
Today at the funeral, the Prime Minister of the Jewish state spoke to the dead and to the living, “This is the strength of an ancient people that has always prevailed and thank God, look around you, here in the mountains of Jerusalem, today we have a state of our own, flourishing and advanced, a state that is a moral lighthouse unto the world – and our president was right to say: Jews have a right to live in many countries and have full security, but I believe that they know in their heart, there is one country which is their historic home, a state which will always accept them with open arms.” This is why you should come to Israel.
There are all sorts of things THEY say about Israelis, but the truth comes out in moments like this – moments like this past summer when we were at war. Moments like when our three precious boys were kidnapped and killed and Israel surrounded the families with love and prayer. And moments like today when four bodies of Jews were flown into Israel and given back to the earth in respect, in love, in honor. The families are likely to never forget the sudden and horrible end to their lives – but with that horrible memory, will come a memory of yesterday, when their bodies were flown home to Israel on a plane flown by a Jewish pilot, unloaded and brought to Jerusalem, surrounded by thousands of Jews who wanted, above all, to tell the families that we will take care of them now.
“Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, Francois-Michel, this is not how we wanted to welcome you to Israel. This is not how we wanted you to arrive in the Land of Israel, this is not how we wanted to see you come home, to the State of Israel, and to Jerusalem, its capital. We wanted you alive, we wanted for you, life.” This is what the President of Israel said at their funerals and this is what we say to the Jews in France. We want you to come in life, we want you to come home.
Rivlin continued: “Jewish blood is not worthless. Human blood is not worthless. The earth will not cover the blood, nothing will cure the pain. Here, between Jerusalem’s mountains, upon Har HaMenuchot, we lay to rest our brothers who have come from afar, our brothers, sons of France, but also sons of Jerusalem. May they be of blessed memory.”
That’s why you should come – because Jewish blood in our land is so valuable, we have been known to trade over 1,000 Arabs for one Jew; we have released terrorists and murderers (and no, I don’t really agree with this policy) because ultimately the values we have make us choose life.
So, to the Jews of France – why should you get the hell out of France – because Israel is waiting for you. We will help you. We will do all we can so that you can build new homes here, find new jobs. We will welcome you to our homes – as we have for the Jews of Yemen, Russia, Ethiopia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia and Morocco. What we did for the Jews of Germany and Italy and Greece and Poland after World War II, we are ready to do now…for each Jew that has turned to Israel, for each one that has returned, we have given a home.
It isn’t that you won’t have to fight here to live – we fight, our sons fight, our daughters fight…but we fight side by side, protecting each other. Yes there is terrorism, but no one fights it harder than we do. Everywhere you walk here, there are others who watch and protect. And you don’t have to convince us that there is evil in the world, that terrorism seeks the innocent. We know this and so we are on alert always.
But the front lines are protected so that most of us go about our everyday lives without any hesitation, our kids are free here and grow up proud. They would never think it necessary in this land to hide their kippah, their Jewish star. We teach them to walk proud – proud not only of their history but of their future.
You should come to Israel because there is no place better in the world for a Jewish child to be raised, than in this land, this country. You will not find the language easy – few of us do…oh but your children will be speaking the mother-tongue in a year. Finding a job may be a challenge and you might not be able to be what you are today, may have to change fields, many of us did.
I never even heard of my job title before I moved to Israel – and with hard work and a lot of blessings, I built a company where I employ others; I work for hi-tech companies around Israel and help spread their amazing innovations all over the world. I found work – and so can you.
I lived in a nice house in America, in a nice town about an hour away from New York…here, I live 10 minutes from Jerusalem in a bigger house than I had there, drive a newer car and I work hard, my husband works hard…but for all the hard work we have put into building our home, our business, our lives, our children reap our rewards.
Is life hard in Israel? Well, it isn’t easy. Some days, the tears fall non-stop…like today. Some days, like when we buried the boys, we thought our hearts would never be fixed. But the next morning, we got up, saw the sun shining and knew that despite it all, we were home.
For all that life can be hard, I have not regretted the decision to move here with three small children for a single moment in 21+ years. I left an elderly grandmother who understood I was fulfilling my dream. We left my husband’s parents, taking with us the only grandchildren they had and lost them only a year later. But not for a single moment do I think our decision was wrong for our children…even the two times one of my sons was called to fight in battle, even when one daughter was caught outside during a missile attack.
For all that you worry about what life is like here in Israel, worry more about what life could be like in France. We can argue about jobs and the economy but we can’t argue one simple truth. French may be the language of your father and grandfather, but it isn’t the language of your forefathers. France may be the country where you were born, but it isn’t your motherland.
Paris may be chic, but Jerusalem is beauty.
The one great truth that you know in your hearts, that you feel today on this sad day when we buried Yoav, Yohan, Philippe, and Francois-Michel, is that they are home…now it is your turn. This is our land, our home.