No to aliyah out of fear

Picture from Wikimedia commons, approved for reuse.

I have recently encountered dozens of posts and articles claiming that Jews have no future in their respective Diaspora communities and should therefore pack their bags and come to Israel before it’s too late. In most cases, this style of writing refers to recent terrorist attacks in Europe or increasing racial tensions in US in the aftermath of the Charlottesville attack and plays on apocalyptic fears.

I also strongly encourage “Aliyah” whenever possible.  However, I am opposed to using scaremongering as a strategy for encouraging “Aliyah”.  First of all, Aliyah out of fear is simply bad marketing.  The argument that an individual Jew is statistically safer living in Israel than in the Diaspora is dubious.  Secondly, no one can predict the future. Thirdly, those who move to Israel out of fear will likely return to their native countries when the situation changes or when they are convinced that it’s safer abroad than in Israel.  But most importantly, I believe that Aliyah out of fear misses what our presence in this special land is all about.

I dedicate most of my writing to highlight the numerous positive aspects of life in Israel, unlike anywhere else in the world.  From the convenience of daily life thanks to our excellent health care, educational and public transportation systems to the unprecedented opportunity to live in a thriving Jewish and democratic state, Diaspora Jews have plenty of reasons to consider Aliyah. But let’s be honest: Daily life in Israel is not all about roses, nor is it supposed to be.

Perhaps the following three verses in the Torah best explain what our presence here is all about.

Deuteronomy Chapter 11:10-12  “For the land that you go in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from where you came out, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your foot, as a garden of herbs. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven. A land which the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.”

Although these verses can be seen as a kind of a blessing, it is far from the promise of an easy life in Israel.  Rather, “a land of hills and valleys” that describes the Land of Israel can be seen as a metaphor for challenges and uncertainty.  On the other hand, the “garden of herbs” that describes Egypt and perhaps Diaspora Jewish communities of today is a metaphor for a life that’s too easy.  Since the “vegetables” or material wealth is automatic, no one needs to turn one’s eyes towards heaven and form a relationship with the creator of the world.

More important than just a place on the globe for the Jewish people to flee to in times of distress, Israel is full of challenges and complexities. However, in this land of “hills and valleys”, one can truly live a life full of meaning that far surpasses the Diaspora.

Eric Grosser is the founder of “Holy Land Escape” that offers a wide variety of Israel tours.  He is a certified tour guide who writes extensively on current events and every day life in Israel. Eric lives with his wife and six children in Rehovot, Israel.  

About the Author
Eric Grosser is a graduate of Ohio State University where he earned his B.A. and Bar-Ilan University where he received his M.B.A. He holds a certificate in Jewish Education from the Pardes Institute's Educator's program and has taught in Jewish day schools throughout North America. He has lived in Israel for most of the past two decades and is a licensed tour guide in English, Spanish and Hebrew. He writes extensively on current events and everyday life in Israel. Eric lives with his wife and 6 children in Rehovot, Israel.
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