Eretz Yisrael Time

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
There have been a number of articles lately about Aliyah from America – or rather the lack of Aliyah from America. While Nefesh B’Nefesh has made the pre and post Aliyah process easier, statistically (and numerically) there simply hasn’t been a significant increase in Olim from the US.

Michael Hirsch’s interesting article in the Jerusalem Post highlights this failure and attempts to explain why this is so.

But what he doesn’t touch on is how to increase Aliyah. (Or why it’s important – but that requires an entirely separate post).

I look at my own reasons for making Aliyah and wonder if (a) they are relevant to anyone else, and (b) if it is something that can be transferred to others.

Like most other Jewish families, Israel was discussed somewhere in the background in the home, and mentioned casually in school, but the country simply never interested me. And Aliyah certainly wasn’t something on my radar or of the schools. Interestingly enough, I usually found the Israeli kids in my schools far more interesting than the Americans to talk with.

That disinterest in Israel changed during my first trip to Israel - and not even then. It was only towards to the end of my vacation that something about Israel just clicked with me. I can define in part what it was, when it was, and where it was, but I don’t believe it could be the same thing for anyone else.

I returned to America distracted. I realized that I wasn’t going to stay in America much longer. A few months later I was made a self-organized pilot trip, and a few months after that I was in Israel – allegedly for the year, but I was already sure it was for good.

I realized that I wanted to stay, and luckily I eventually found myself in a Yeshiva program that supported my idea. And while difficult over the years (and even at points extremely difficult) in the end I stayed and I would define my Aliyah as a success.


I think Aliyah is like marriage.

When you’re young, na├»ve, without baggage, less critical and judgemental, and everything else, marriage is an easier decision to make, but as the years go buy, the older you get, the more difficult it is to decide and commit. Just like one can end up single forever, one can end up in America forever – always rationalizing it away.

So what would make Aliyah an actual option on the table for more people?

Outside of the US it’s easier. There’s anti-Semitism, there’s no financial future, there’s no viable Jewish community. Israel looks better on every level.

But in the US, anti-Semitism is low (though rising), the financial condition right now is poor, but that is likely to be temporary over the long term, the Jewish community is strong (at least the religious one is), and it’s simply easy to be a Jew (though perhaps sometimes a little embarrassing).

For the average American Jew, moving to Israel means a foreign language, coarse people, unwanted bureaucracy, a poor implementation of democracy, high taxes, and low salaries (to name a few issues).

And unfortunately these perceived negatives will almost always outweigh the positives facts that often actually trump them – but you can’t find that out until you actually jump in the water.

While Hebrew can be learned, you soon find out that everyone wants to talk English to you; the people can be rough, but you can say what you want to them in return; the bureaucracy is annoying, but it certainly is not what it was 10 years ago, and in fact most services are now online – you can log in and accomplish almost anything, the understanding and poor implementation of democracy sucks, but you can literally approach your mayors, and Knesset representatives in the street and they will talk to you (I do this all the time), taxes are high and salaries can be lower, but schooling is inexpensive, and medical insurance is not high, while treatment (medical and personal) is excellent (we’ve discussed this in the past) – the system is not the socialized medicine that everyone remembers from years ago.

I am not saying there aren’t difficulties. You need to find jobs, a home, etc. – but these are challenges you might face anywhere. And now there are plenty of Aliyah organizations and support groups that provide mentors and assistance to closely help you with that transition – something that wasn’t really around a decade ago.


But everything I listed above is a “rational decision”. These are things that the older, more established person worries about.

In fact, these are the same types of questions that older single people use to rationalize why he or she shouldn’t marry the person they are dating – unlike a younger adult who only knows that he or she is in love, and marriage is clearly the next step.

Selling Aliyah to someone established in their job or community is like convincing a single person to get married. It sounds like a good idea to them, but it always gets stuck in the implementation.

I think that first of all you have to get them young. Birthright is a good first step – it creates that connection, but it isn’t enough, nor perhaps even young enough. It certainly needs some follow-up programs.

But more than that, every Jewish school (Elementary and High School) should have charismatic Israeli teachers teach teaching there (on rotating limited one year Shlichuts) teaching about Israel – not Hebrew – Israel. Israel’s history, its goals, how it’s relevant to the Jewish people, and most importantly, why Israel is such a wonderful place and of course Aliyah.

Create a sense of mystery for these young students. Create a sense of interest. Create a sense of possibility and challenge. Create a connection.

I certainly did not have that in my very Jewish education growing up.

(I admit, while I am sure the Israeli government or the Sochnut would be happy to sponsor such a project, how many principals (or parents) would be happy to have such a curriculum in their school – a curriculum which would eventually drain their student base?)

If you can create that interest, that sense of mission and possibility when they are young, then when they do reach that age of decision, it is actually something they will seriously consider.

Certainly generating interest in Aliyah is a generational mission, not something that should be planned on a yearly basis – how many people can we convince this year with an extra grant or loan.

Going after the families, after the adults is important, but it requires a tremendous amount of resources to both convince and support the process.

If you go after the youth, you are going after the ones that will be able to fall in love and make that emotional decision –without the baggage that accompanies someone who has already made a life in his community.

In fact, often when the kids go, you know what happens? The parents follow.

Hasn’t anyone realized that yet?


If Israel is really interested in significantly increasing Aliyah it needs to start going after the Jewish youth. Create that interest; describe the challenge and the mission. Bring them to Israel in their mid-teens and connect them to Israelis. Get them while they’re in the schools. Get them in the after-school programs.

Spend resources on the low-hanging fruit. Yes, it will take them a few more years to make the move - but after asking any Jew in the US about their 5 (then 10, then 15) year Aliyah plan, getting a High School kid to consider studying in an Israeli University and then making Aliyah is not a long time-line at all – and is far more likely to happen.

Aliyah is like marriage, if you fall in love young, you can jump right in. But if you’re older, you’ll find every rationalization in the world not to do what you really want – and need.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
While the PA was busy arresting and releasing 150 of the "usual suspects" in Tulkarem, the IDF was neutralizing the 3 terrorists (perhaps of 4) in Shchem (Nablus) involved in murdering Rabbi Meir Chai. (IDF sources said the PA arrests were of no assistance to the IDF).

Rumor is circulating that a fourth terrorist is under protective custody in the PA, after he saw he wouldn't be able to protect himself.

One of the terrorists that was neutralized was previously captured for terror activities (and released with amnesty for "peace").

The PA is condemning the actions of the IDF, and Betzelem is calling the neutralization of the terrorists an "execution". All sounds good to me.

One thing is for sure, they won't be freed from prison in exchange for Gilad Shalit. Hopefully this is the introduction of a new IDF policy.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Headline news: Palestinian who planted bomb near Israel-Gaza border gets 10 years

I ask: Why bother?
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Tomorrow is a big day. The various rabbis and leaders of the Hesder system are meeting to decide on a unified position to take (or to split apart). Many have already declared their positions, and sided with Torah and morality, while a few are unfortunately equivocating and, in my opinion, taking positions that don't do justice to their positions are Torah leaders.

This argument is not about whether soldiers should be allowed to protest or not. It never was.

This argument is the fundamental argument between Right and Left, Religious and Secular.

Should soldiers be forced to follow orders that are against the Torah (and immoral) from any lowlife, corrupt political hack who manages to take control - just because he is in control - or do our Yeshivas teach Torah values and morals that are meant to be expressed in every aspect of our lives - including when related to orders in the army - and we are never meant to be mindless automatons?

Will each of the Hesder Rabbis be willing to stand up and say his talmidim should not kick their fellow Jews out of their homes - that it is an immoral order and an anti-Torah order? Or will they leave it with the more pareve statement such as 'the army should not be used for political purposes like Barak is shamelessly and tyrannically doing and abusing'?

The Yeshiva teaches a path, and if the Rabbis of a particular Yeshiva aren't willing to stand up to this tyrannical use of the people's army against its own civilians, against Jews in a Jewish State no less, against this immorality - and calling it what it is, then that Yeshiva isn't teaching any values that will last - because when push comes to shove, in that single moment when the opportunity is there to define your very self, for them it's all just empty words.

It's very easy to put this argument in perspective, imagine your son came home and told you that he was given orders to kick you out of your home and asked you what should he do, would you tell him to follow these orders or not?

Any normal person would say absolutely not, so, then why would you think for a second it's OK for him to kick your Jewish neighbors in the town next door out of their home. They aren't the enemy - they are your fellow citizens, fellow Jews, and no different than you.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I don't know why some continue to call Obama's plan to divide Jerusalem a "secret" and certain others deny it completely.

As we've pointed out numerous times, Obama's officials have repeatedly confirmed His goals. Not to mention Obama's own recent remarks on construction in major Jewish neighborhoods such as Gilo - which He wants immediately stopped.

(And don't even get me started on the freeze).

Now, once again the "secret" plan to divide Jerusalem is being publicly discussed.

Haaretz is reporting of an interview with Egypts Foreign Minister on the latest iteration of Obama's plan to divide Jerusalem.

The United States and Egypt, along with France, are planning a joint move to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks on the basis of the June 4, 1967, borders, territorial exchanges and a complete freeze of construction beyond the Green Line, including East Jerusalem. The freeze would not be announced publicly.
He's not pulling this out of the air.

You've got to really want to have your head deep in the sand to not see what is right in front of you.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I found the recent article in the NYTimes on what really happened on Chanukah to be quite amusing. The author (and his readers) was upset to learn that Chanukah isn't about Religious Tolerance or whatever as he grew up to believe, but about civil war and the survival of Judaism. He of course paints the Maccabees as a bunch of religious fanatics/Talibanist fighting the moderates who were looking to "synthesize" the Greek and Jewish cultures together, ignoring how (a) the moderates were trying to destroy Judaism and assimilate, and (b) that it is unlikely there would be much of Judaism (or Jews) left today if it weren't for our coreligionists back then.

It seemed appropriate on Chanukah that the JoeSettler family visit something connected to our ideological and national ancestors. There seems to be so much in common between then and now.

So we took a trip to the Maccabean grave site near Modi'in. Now no one is exactly sure where the grave site is, but for a number of reasons, this is currently accepted to be the most likely candidate (though other strongly disagree).



At the location is a modern "Andarta" to soldiers who died in 1948 defending the region against the Jordanian army (there weren't Arabs who could be identified as Palestinians back then). The design of the pyramids is symbolic of the grave markers that were originally on the Maccabbee graves.





If you head out on the path to highway 443 you can see Jewish burial caves that were uncovered as the road was built (you can actually see it on the highway if you drive slow enough). These graves are from around 100 years after the Maccabee victory.







Heading back to the main area, you can see what are considered the most likely candidates for the graves. These graves where carved out of the limestone themselves, and probably a stone pyramid was built over them to cover them up.





There are actually a lot of small caves in the area. Many (but not all) are marked off so you don't fall into them.



If you head over to Latrun tank museum and climb up to the top of the building you can look around and see where the Maccabees fought the Greek-Syrian armies.

Now that's a living history!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Let's recap:

Settlement freeze.
Police brutality against Jewish girls.
Administrative detentions against Jewish citizens.
Hesder Yeshivas closed down.
Jerusalem on the line.
Kassam attacks in the South.
Increased (successful) terror attacks.
Suicide bomber terrorism starting again (today, the 2nd suicide bomber in the space of a week was caught).

Sounds like a typical Likud government to me.

I once again reiterate that I am happy I voted Ichud Leumi. They may have no influence, but its been proven that neither does any Likud MK have influence either.

The difference is my conscience is clear.

---

I suspect the repercussions that Ehud Barak is going to have to deal with in light of his attack on Yeshivat Har Bracha is going to blow up in his face in unexpected ways.

I am sure he thinks he is scaring the other Roshei Yeshivas (and perhaps he is scaring some of them), but I suspect he has now consolidated their support around Rabbi Melamed.

Furthermore, the Hesder soldiers are not likely to take this quietly, and we'll see more soldiers openly indicating their refusal to kick out Jews from their homes (as Barak tries to involve more of them in this immoral act), and that the dispersed soldiers from Har Bracha will be influencing even more soldiers than before in their new Yeshivas if (it goes that far).

And more than likely, when not in the army, the Hesder soldiers will return to Har Bracha to learn.

But most importantly, Barak, in his arrogance, will have created just a few too many political enemies. Already some MKs committees are blocking funding to various Defense Ministry projects. I think we'll start seeing more political activism against him, to the point where he will become so big a liability to the stability of the government that Bibi will have no choice but to cut him loose.

UPDATE in comments section:
Saturday, December 12, 2009
MKs on the Left, with the interest of the Leftwing Israeli media are trying to pass a bill that would effectively ban the "Yisrael Hayom" newspaper.

Yisrael Hayom, unlike the other mainstream newspapers like Maariv and Yediot (and I would include Haaretz, but it really isn't mainstream at all) is not left-wing.

Yes, the newspaper is free, and given out in busy, trafficked areas, but that is not really the secret of its success. There are plenty of free papers one can pick up.

And there certainly isn't anything stopping those other papers from giving out their copies for free either - and it's not as if you can't get them free when you fill up for gas.

Israelis like it because it simply isn't another left-wing paper.

Israelis apparently like reading news from what is actually a centrist-right position.

So the Israeli newspapers owners and the Left-wing politicians are trying to ban Yisrael Hayom. The excuse they are giving is that the owner, Sheldon Adelson is not an Israeli citizen, and is, through the paper unduly influencing the Israeli public.

Huh!

Where are they when all the radical Leftwing NGOs are receiving money from foreign governments?

Talk about hypocrisy.

But killing free speech is something the Left like to do.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Arutz-7 is reporting Government support for a bill requiring a referendum on any retreat from land under Israeli sovereignty.

MKs on the Right are actually happy about this bill, as it would not allow Israel to cede land against the will of (a simple?) majority of citizens.

This would include the Golan, Jerusalem, and even Tel Aviv.

What a sick bill!

How about a bill that forbids ceding any territory of Eretz Yisrael at all instead of one that allows for it to happen.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
It's a bit disappointing writing this particular post. It unfortunately means that not everyone understands that we are all in the boat together.

If you ask the average Israeli if the Jordan River is our eastern border, I'd say that 95% of the country would agree, even if it is way over the 1967 Armistice Line.

When the freeze was announced, the immediate reaction of the Leftwing settlements in the Jordan Valley was quite clear. They told Barak they aren't "settlers from the territories". They're fellow Leftists like him. The Jordan Valley is of course the eastern border of the State of Israel. Why should the Freeze apply to them?

And then the Chareidim and UTJ jumped on board.

Why should the freeze apply to their towns? They aren't ideological settlers. They moved to Beitar because no one would allow them to build towns anywhere else, and they have no where else to live. Don't punish them because of the settlers. And so on.

And of course the residents of Jerusalem don't understand how their neighborhoods have gotten dragged into the argument and why their construction plans have been frozen (that's right - in Jerusalem too).

What this means is that they really don't understand that we are all in this boat together, Leftist, Settler, Chareidi, Jerusalemites, and even the Chiloni in Tel Aviv.

If we don't all choose to fight this freeze together, all our towns, are going to be destroyed - and then the country itself.

Only if we are united will we have the strength to stand up to the US and Iran.

On the Israeli news tonight they showed Israeli policemen acting in the Settlements. They needed 5 policemen for every settler girl they beat up. Kol hakavod to our settler girls. They showed true strength and determination, and hopefully the other "settlers" will learn the same.


A question was raised. Just a few weeks ago, Barak told the High Court he didn't have enough manpower to properly inspect and track all the illegal Arab construction in the Negev, Galil, Judea and Samaria. Apparently he has more than enough now that he wants it. Is his response to the High Court now negated?
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Last week the Israeli media ran a convention in Eilat.

One of the issues they discussed is if Israeli media is Left. The consensus that was reached at the panels is that Israeli media is actually Center-Right (and that's coming from Haaretz!).

By the way, Israeli media sources NOT represented at the convention, and certainly not on the panel discussion the media's political persuasions included Makor Rishon, Arutz-7, Radio Kol Chai, and other Rightwing and/or Religious outlets.

Funny how the media could manage to define themselves as Center-Right, when they didn't bother to invite/allow media outlets that are actually on the Center-Right to participate.

Sort of like the Israeli High Court calling itself balanced.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Video of a Palestinian terrorist getting caught with a knife, and then when the guards turn their back to her, she pulls out a second knife and stabs one of them.

(Graphic)

Last week a terrorist stabbed two people at the Kiryat Arba gas station.

The terrorist was shot by a soldier nearby.

The husband of one of the stabbed women then got into his car and repeatedly ran over the terrorist.

The husband is now under arrest for attempted murder!!!

This is the proper thing to do to terrorists. This is what guarantees they won't be freed by the Israeli government to try and kill again.

The Israeli news reporter (of course) expressed his disapproval with the man's action in the news report.

You can watch the (warning: graphic) video here:



Hopefully charges against him will be dropped. It would certainly be wrong for him to sit in jail longer than the terrorist he (properly) tried to kill.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
In case you didn't notice, purple is in this Eid Al-Adha holiday.
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