Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

It’s Time for the Great North American Aliyah

A group of 229 new Olim arrived in Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh on the summer's first chartered aliya flight. (photo credit: Sason Tiram)
A group of 229 new Olim arrived in Israel through Nefesh B’Nefesh on the summer's first chartered aliya flight. (photo credit: Sason Tiram)

Just as some judge a book by its cover without bothering to see what the book is about, I’m sure some will see the title and assume that this is a response to the latest antisemitic shooting in Poway. It is not. This essay is a stand alone call to North American Jewry. It is a call for North American Jewry to actualize their dream of coming home to Israel. The essay also calls on the people of Israel to actualize its dream of bringing all its children back home.

In the heyday of early Zionism the Jewish people had five great aliyot (immigrations) from Eastern Europe. In 1948 Israel experienced a great aliyah from Arab lands. In the early 1990’s Russian Jewry had their great aliyah, and almost simultaneously, Ethiopian Jewry had their own great aliyah. Most recently French Jewry has begun its aliya. Through each of these aliyot, Jews found a home waiting to greet them with open arms. Although there seemed to be no space, this tiny nation accepted its sons and daughters from all lands and in all conditions. Some of its returning children came escaping persecution, some following a dream and others simply without a place to call home. Israel became home for them all. The one group of Jews that has yet to experience its great aliyah is North American Jewry.

Almost inexplicably, the overwhelming majority of North America’s Jews have passed on the opportunity to return (Jews don’t move to Israel, they go up and return) to Israel. Of all people, North Americans seem the most fitting to make aliyah. A great North American aliyah would be a shidduch made in heaven. It would be a marriage of biblical ideals and contemporary values. Many might challenge the idea of a great North American aliyah as anti- American, but moving to Israel isn’t an abandonment of the North American dream, it is spreading the pioneering spirit and values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to another land. No Jew could better demonstrate their loyalty to the United State of America than by taking America’s ideals and bringing them to a new homeland.

Israel should eagerly desire a great North American aliya. North Americans have a great deal to lend Israel. The left’s progressive values can help Israel with the social justice areas it struggles with. Equality among citizens and finding opportunities for coexistence with Palestinian Arabs are just two examples. American conservatives can bring fiscal responsibility and a dedication to individual liberties. Americans of all political stripes are known for being calm and collected in their policy rollouts. Calm and collected is a quality Israel needs.

North American Jews are the most dedicated Zionists outside of Israel. North America boasts a plethora of organizations committed to supporting the Jewish State. Michael Walzer described American Jews’ commitment to Israel as so strong, that they’ve made “Half-aliyah.” North America’s Jewish left, who find so much that can be improved in this country and are often disappointed by the slow progress of Israeli society, should lead the charge. They should bring their passion and activism from the kiddish hall, social media chat rooms and Washington offices to the Knesset. They should change Israel for the better.

North Americans should return home to Israel today – when it is the easiest it has ever been. They should move before it becomes an aliyah of fear like in France or of escape as it was for Arabs or Russians. They should move well before there is a financial imperative to do so as many Argentinian and Venezuelan Jews experienced. Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, and now is the time for North American Jews to make it their personal home.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.
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