Dear Diaspora Jew

First of all, I want to thank you for your support and the support of the rest of the international Jewish community. You are all an inseparable part of Israel’s progress and identity, and I know that. Your donations kept me warm in the army and your love continues to do the same to the hearts of all Israelis everywhere.

But I’m writing this letter for a different reason. Although I believe in all of the above, lately I find myself struggling with some difficult feelings. So I’m going to try to explain them, and I truly mean no offense.

I know you’re comfy over there, wherever you are. We all have our problems, but most chances are that you’ve got a cushy job and a beautiful family and that your life is convenient. You say that you’re going to make Aliyah — only the timing just isn’t right. You’re a Zionist and you love your visits to Israel and obviously Aliyah is the ultimate plan, you just haven’t made it yet. If that’s not true, the rest of this is a waste of your time.

I want you to know that the timing will never be right. You’re waiting for your kids to be older, but suddenly they’re seniors in high school. So you said you’d wait for them to move out, but suddenly you have grandkids. You’re waiting for it to not be so dangerous over there- but the drama won’t end.

Let me tell you about my Aliyah. I was lucky. I was a child. I was 7 years old and my brother was 4. My father was a successful business man in the center of the Hollywood culture of Los Angeles and my mother was a French-Tunisian house wife who’d been dreaming of Eretz Yisrael since childhood. The year was 2003. Buses were blowing up on the street that we would later live on, and all over the country. The IDF had just engaged in Operation Protective Shield in response to the Second Intifada.

And my parents were fed up. They were tired of saying “someday”. They felt that the beauty of Yiddishkeit in America had become hypocritical. So, they made the decision that changed my life forever. They sold the house. My dad sold the big company that he’d owned, founded and managed. We waited for the school year to end. I remember my mother having words with the mother of a girl in my first grade class whose daughter had been repeating things to me that she’d heard at home. Things like, “Is it true that you’re going to Israel? You know, they only have camels there. Also, you’re gonna get blown up and die. Your parents don’t love you, that’s why you’re going.”

We said goodbye and we got on the plane. Hebrew became as native to me as English. I saw a female Border Patrol guard for the first time, and decided that the army would be my destiny. I grew up. I enlisted. I met my husband during my army service and we got married while we were both serving. He is an officer.

My point is this: My Facebook news feed right now comprises of the names and faces of soldiers and civilians who have been stabbed, shot or run over intentionally by cars in acts of terrorism over the past few months. Their crime? Being Jewish. Just like you. And then I see the random Friend’s post of their dog, or their lunch, or something equally mundane. And I think to myself, wow. You guys are completely disconnected!

This letter is not about accusations or judgments, it’s about the venting of my frustration. I feel like we’re taking bullets and bleeding for the entire Jewish people. We are the ones who live here and stand guard to ensure that if you and your family ever need a safe place, it will still be here. We colonize the Jewish country at great risk to our lives, despite international opinion, to make sure that there will be room when you decide that your gap year wasn’t enough. When you start feeling like it didn’t mean that you did yours. When your words of Jewish solidarity and Zionism and everything that you’ve ever said start ringing in your ears.

We’re waiting for you, and the ground has become soaked with our tears and our blood. If those words sound ominous or scary, ask yourselves why the sacrifice should be ours. We were all where you are, once. There is practically no such thing as an Israeli! We all came from somewhere. There’s no reason that our responsibility should be greater than yours.

So it’s really very simple. Very. You have to ask yourself a question, and you’ve got to be reeeeally honest when you answer: will you make Aliyah? If you read past the third paragraph of this letter, you should be left with one of two answers. The first goes something like, “You know what? I’ve been saying I want to make Aliyah this whole time because I thought I was supposed to say that. Because I like the atmosphere in Machane Yehuda market. Because I was scared of judgement and I thought I had to want this.” If that’s your answer, stop saying things that are not your truth! The world doesn’t need more insincerity, and everyone will respect and love you just the same.

But you might be offended by this, and be saying something different. Something more like, “Who is this woman and why does she think she can disregard my passion for Israel just because I live somewhere else? I fully intend to make Aliyah.  I love Israel and it’s my business when I’ll make it.”

If that’s what you thought, ask yourself when that will be. The last thing I’ll say is, if your answer was the second one, you’ve got to do it now. Right now. Talk to your spouse and book the tickets. Worry about everything else later. Some people never take the chance. Please, don’t join their ranks. Don’t wait for signs that will never come. End the separation between yourself and your land, your heritage, your people, your birthright, that place that is so familiar and so far away. Come home.

About the Author
Born to a French mother and American father, Batya came to Israel at a young age. Upon graduating high school in Israel, she spent her military service in the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. She now studies International Relations and Political Science (B.A.) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lives in Jerusalem with her beautiful daughter.
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