This week in synagogue we celebrated a beautiful family making Aliyah to Israel. After prayer services, I had a chance to sit with them at the Kiddush and learn how their children first made “the big move.” And now the parents were following suit retiring from their careers here in the U.S., selling their home, and after downsizing, packing all their lifelong belongings into a shipping container to make the trans-Atlantic journey. I was deeply inspired to hear their story and their yearning to settle in the Holy Land–they are going to live in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.
Israel is the place of choice to move and settle for many Jewish families from around the world, as G-d promised us in Isaiah 11:12: “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the Earth.” From a Jewish population of about 24,000 in Israel in 1882 to 60,000 in Israel at the start of World War I in 1918 to over 6.6 million today, the prophecy is truly coming to fulfillment.
The Jewish people have come back in waves from the pogroms in Russia in the 1880’s to those in Poland, and Hungary in the early 20th century, to the British conquest and subsequent Balfour Declaration in 1917, from the Holocaust in the 1930s-40’s, and from Yemen (Operation Magic Carpet) in 1949, from Iraq (Operation Ezra and Nehemiah/Ali Baba) in 1951, from Ethiopia and Sudan (Operation Moses and Joshua) in 1985, to about 1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union between 1989 and 2006.
As it says in Isaiah 40:31, “But for those who wait upon the L-rd will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” Whether airlifted on IDF transport planes or commercially on El Al, we are soaring with full hearts back to “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 31:20)
With over 6 million Jews in North America (ironically the same number that were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust), this is the next natural place of migration for the Jewish people to return from and to go to the Biblical Jewish homeland that G-d told to Abraham (Genesis 12:1): “Leave your country, your kindred, and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.”
As Jewish people yet around the globe plan for their futures, they need to consider carefully “the place that G-d has chosen” and where they and their families will be at the fateful conclusion of the Redemption and the arrival of Mashiach. Perhaps, while the road to Jerusalem requires our dedication and hard work, the choice is not that difficult as the Land of Israel flourishes and the people of Israel yet lives–Eretz and Am Israel Chai!