Why Raanan Shaked* is wrong

I made aliyah 14 1/2 years ago with my husband and two young children. We all read Yedioth Aharonoth every day. We are Israelis with citizenship and ID cards, just like our third son, who was born in Israel. We speak English at home and Hebrew fluently outside. We left a house and good jobs in New York to come to Israel for one primary reason.

We came to Israel to fulfill a promise. That promise was given to Abraham (Genesis 17: 7-8): “I will sustain My covenant between Me and you, and between your descendents after you throughout their generations as an eternal covenant, to be a God to you, and to your descendants after you. I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your temporary residence, all the land of Canaan as an eternal possession, and I will be God to them.”

This promise was later affirmed to Isaac (Genesis 26:3): “Live in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands. I will thus keep the oath that I swore to Abraham, your father. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of the heavens, and I will give your descendants all these lands. Through your descendants shall be blessed all the nations of the world.”

Jacob received the blessing as well (Genesis 35:12): “The land that I gave to Avraham and Isaac, I will give to you; and to your offspring after you I will give the land.”

When God appeared to Moshe, He reminded him of His former promises, which had not yet been fulfilled (Exodus 6:4): “I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning where they lived as strangers.”

Finally, God promised to fulfill his promise (Exodus 6:8): “I will bring you to the land regarding which I raised my hand in oath that I will give it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I will give it to you as an inheritance. I am God.”

We see from these promises that the Land of Israel is a gift to the entire Jewish people and this is where God wants us to be. There are no specifications about having to be born in Israel, having to master the language or having to be in a specific political camp. God wants you in Israel whether you are a lawyer or whether you serve French fries at a restaurant.

Raanan Shaked can’t understand this. Why would Jews leave New York and take lower paying or less prestigious jobs in Israel? Why would they give up houses and move to apartments? There must be something wrong with them. He will never understand us, no matter how many Nefesh B’Nefesh flights he observes and no matter how many olim (immigrants) he interviews. We are here because this is our homeland.

Those who question olim may not realize that there are many opportunities in Israel that we would not have had in the USA. Israel is far ahead in the areas of Torah study and Jewish education and opportunities for Modern Orthodox Jews to break into fields like joining the Knesset or teaching Zionism through sports, culture and technology are a dream come true.

Instead of judging us, native Israelis should appreciate the contributions that olim are making and realize that we are not a threat but rather people who want to consciously fulfill a promise and make the State of Israel a better place.

Raanan Shaked was wrong to judge us. He owes all olim an apology.

*Raanan Shaked is a journalist for Yediot Achronot who wrote that olim from the United States are a sub-stream of lunatic Isra-mericans, who would doubtfully get jobs as waiters.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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