We Have Nowhere Else to Go

As I was about to leave Israel after my last trip in February, I posted on Instagram, “Golda Meir famously said that Israel has a secret weapon: We have nowhere else to go.”

And @jeanade5 responded: “Okay, but you have the whole world to go to just like everyone else on the planet.

@jeanade5, I generally don’t respond to hateful comments but I assume yours is not spiteful, just uninformed. Unfortunately, throughout our long history, including today, Jews cannot just go anywhere else like everyone else on the planet.

You see, Jews are not like everyone else on the planet. We, as a people, have been ethnically cleansed from over 80 places. In modern history, from 1938 through 1945, Jews were systematically exterminated just for being Jews in all Nazi-controlled areas.

Before 1948, close to a million Jews lived in what are now Arab states. We were systematically expelled from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Sudan, Afghanistan, and others. These were places with large, old, established Jewish communities. Today these places are “judenrein,” a term used by the Nazis to describe a successfully ethnically cleansed Jew-free world.

This isn’t new to our people. Just take a look at the list below that lists some of the places we’ve been expelled.

Tomorrow night, Jews around the world will sit down to their Seder, where they will recite the solemn words from the Haggadah, “In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hands.” This powerful statement has resonated through the generations, highlighting the perpetual challenges faced by Jews and the enduring need for a secure homeland.

Jews don’t feel the same sense of security to go wherever they please in the world, which is why we need a place to call home when our current home outside of Israel is becoming increasingly inhospitable. As Martin Luther King said, “Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.”

Today in America, more and more Jews are getting the message that we are not welcome here.

Every Jew I know keeps a current passport, and some even have several, reflecting a readiness to move at a moment’s notice—a testament to our tumultuous history and an ongoing sense of vulnerability.

There are 27 official Muslim countries and 33 official Christian countries in the world, but only one Jewish state. Only one place where Jews can always have a home no matter how the tides shift in our host countries. It doesn’t mean that no one else has the right to be there. Rather, it assures that the Jewish People, who have been expelled more times than we can count, always have a place to return.

So @jeanade5, we do not have the “whole world to go to just like everyone else on the planet.”

Places Jews have been expelled from:

250 Carthage
415 Alexandria
554 Clement, France
561 Uzes, France
612 Visigoth, Spain
642 Visigothic Empire
855 Italy
876 Sens
1012 Mayence
1181 France
1290 England
1306 France
1348 Switzerland
1348 Alsace
1349 Hungary
1388 Strasbourg
1394 Germany
1394 France
1422 Austria
1424 Fribourg and Zurich
1426 Cologne
1432 Savory
1438 Mainz
1439 Augsburg
1456 Bavaria
1453 Franconia
1453 Breslau
1454 Wurzburg
1485 Vincenza, Italy
1492 Spain
1495 Lithuania
1497 Portugal
1499 Germany
1514 Strasbourg
1519 Regensburg
1540 Naples
1542 Bohemia
1550 Genoa
1551 Bavaria
1555 Pesaro
1559 Austria
1561 Prague
1567 Wurzburg
1569 Papal States
1571 Brandenburg
1582 Netherlands
1593 Brandenburg/Brunswick Austria
1597 Cremona, Pavia & Lodi
1614 Frankfort
1615 Worms
1619 Kiev
1649 Ukraine
1649 Hamburg
1654 Little Russia
1656 Lithuania
1669 Oran, North Africa
1670 Vienna
1712 Sandomir
1727 Russia
1738 Wurtemburg
1740 Little Russia
1744 Bohemia
1744 Livonia
1745 Moravia
1753 Kovad, Lithuania
1761 Bordeaux
1772 Pale of Settlement, Russia
1775 Warsaw
1789 Alsace
1804 Russian Villages
1808 Russia Countryside
1815 Lubeck and Bremen
1815 Franconia, Swabia and Bravaria
1820 Bremes
1843 Prussia & Russian-Austrian Border
1866 Galatz, Romania
1919 Bavaria

About the Author
Rabbi Menachem Lehrfield lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Sarah, and their five energetic children. He serves as the Director of the Jewish Outreach Initiative (JOI), a transformative program reshaping the Jewish landscape in Denver. JOI is dedicated to providing authentic Jewish experiences and learning opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds in a meaningful and engaging way. Additionally, Rabbi Lehrfield is the Co-director of SITE (the School of Integrative Torah Education), a Hebrew school alternative where Judaism is brought to life in a fun, camp-like atmosphere. He hosts the "Zero Percent” and "Dear Rabbi”podcasts and cohosts the "reConnect" podcast, further broadening his influence and connection with a global audience. Known for his warmth and genuine love for every Jew, Rabbi Lehrfield's approachable demeanor enables him to connect with people across all age groups and backgrounds. As a dynamic and engaging educator, he employs analogies and humor to make complex, profound ideas accessible and relatable to all, from novices to experts. Rabbi Lehrfield earned his M.Ed from Loyola University in Chicago and received two rabbinic ordinations; one from Yeshivas Beis Yisroel in Jerusalem, and another from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, the Chief Justice of the Jerusalem High Court. Beyond his professional pursuits, Rabbi Lehrfield is passionate about photography, baking, rock climbing, and snowboarding. These diverse interests allow him to engage with a broad spectrum of individuals and communities, furthering his mission to make Judaism relevant and meaningful for all Jews. You can follow Rabbi Lehrfield's activities and insights at @JOIdenver on Instagram and Facebook.
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