web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Welcoming Israel’s Newest Olim


Having spent earlier sabbaticals here in Israel, I knew the subject of aliyah loomed as a background issue but hardly expected the untold ways it would recast itself.

Jerusalem’s stylish German Colony, where we rent a furnished apartment, has seen an influx of French-speaking olim – so much so that when one of the Hildesheimer Street shul’s Simchat Torah honorees came forward, a chorus of “La Marseillaise” rang out. I once heard the congregation’s black-frocked rav trying to explain a complex Talmudic point and then wondering aloud in Hebrew whether he should add some French to his vocabulary.

The aliyah theme surfaced again in a friend’s e-mail announcing he planned to arrive the following month on a flight sponsored by Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), the aliyah service organization.

“Scary,” he wrote, “but better scared than sorry.”

After making a mental note of his December 27arrival date, I was reminded once more of aliyah at the premiere showing of the film “Refusenik” at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival. This moving account, showing both the heroic Jews trapped in the Soviet Union desperate to emigrate to Israel a generation ago and the daring activists in the United States who took up their banner, held personal meaning for me.

In 1968, I wrote one of the first books on their struggle (The Unredeemed: Anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union), and on three occasions visited these Prisoners of Zion. Whatever tears I shed during the movie were dwarfed by how I felt when Sharansky, Levin and some fifty other survivors of the Gulag (some now aided by canes and walkers) came onstage afterward to a five-minute standing ovation.

As though some master plan were at work, the next morning an ad appeared in newspapers inviting readers to welcome NBN’s 31stchartered aliyah flight at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Two more experiences underscored the theme of aliyah. Less than a week before the trip to the airport, the Daf Yomi class I attend at the Hildesheimer shul finished the tractate Ketubot, the last few pages of which glorify the land of Israel to the extent of allowing husbands and wives to divorce spouses who refuse to settle there.

The world of the dreamers who trekked across Europe three centuries ago to board boats sailing to the Holy Land came alive, only a day before the NBN welcoming ceremony, during a tour to Tiberias run by the Orthodox Union’s Israel Center. I saw the shul founded by the followers of the Baal Shem Tov, and in the city’s old cemetery, the tomb of Rav Yisroel of Shklav, one of the students of the Vilna Gaon who made the precarious journey.

It was 5 a.m. and still dark when my wife and I boarded one of three chartered buses parked in front of Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’uma for the ride to the airport. Among the passengers, many of whom carried homemade signs, were joyous teenagers, teenagers and twentysomethings, parents with infants in tow, and Shulamith and Yehoshua Neaman, the seventyish couple who had led the previous day’s Tiberias tour.

We sat behind alumni of an earlier NBN flight – a couple from Portland, Oregon, and their three babies – who’d made aliyah as they were becoming more religiously observant, because to their mind the choices were either a larger Orthodox community in America’s Northwest or Israel. They were traveling to the airport to welcome a 21-year-old woman from Seattle who had just finished a pastry chef’s course.

Arriving at El Al’s Terminal 1, I went upstairs where a minyan was underway. What impressed me was the relatively large numbers of boys in the room who were in their early teens. I learned from their madrich (guide) that these 120 students from Kfar Saba’s religious high school had set out early in the morning to fulfill the mitzvah of greeting Israel’s newest arrivals.

At 7:30, the crowd of about one thousand ran outside to the tarmac and formed two parallel lines abutting the makeshift gate where the olim would pass. Fifty chayalot (female soldiers) waving Israeli flags stood at the front of the rows under the bright sun. Israeli music blared, a young man blew into a long, curbed shofar, hand-drawn signs bobbed up and down, guitars sounded. Everyone was pressing to get a glimpse, or touch, or reunite with the new arrivals. It was a scene of joyous, triumphal pandemonium.

About the Author: Ron Rubin is professor of political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books including “The Unredeemed” and “Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World's Greatest Footrace.”


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Welcoming Israel’s Newest Olim

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rosalind Jordan, Washington, D.C. reporter for Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera Reporter: ‘Bibi Said ISIL and Iran Working Together’
Latest Indepth Stories
Ehrenthal-060614-Flea-Market

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pruzansky-Steven-NEW

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prays at the Western Wall ahead of his speech next week at the US Congress.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

Obama’s real problem is that he knows Netanyahu has more credibility on the Iran issue than he does.

Kristof’s op-ed “The Human Stain” was flawed and wrong; more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt-how undeterred by fear of G-d”

Stalin’s plan for the Soviet’s “final solution of the Jewish question” was totally assimilating them

Many Jews oppose the speech fearing it will further erode relations between Israel & US. I disagree.

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

More Articles from Ron Rubin
Chabad-affiliated St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue,

The Jewish population of Moscow numbers well over 100,000.

Front-Page-082313

For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.

Though the ranks of single-issue pro-Israel Jewish voters (they comprise perhaps one-fourth of the Jewish electorate) have contracted as a result of mounting assimilation, those voters have nonetheless learned a lot over the past sixteen years.

Given his swaggered walk and ineloquent delivery, George W. Bush is an easy one to underestimate. But pundits and politicians do so at their own peril, cases in point being Al Gore and John Kerry, two gentlemen who like to think of themselves as high cultivated and erudite.

Having spent earlier sabbaticals here in Israel, I knew the subject of aliyah loomed as a background issue but hardly expected the untold ways it would recast itself.

At the restaurant farewell dinner, Professor Dov Zlotnick asked the dozen or so students of his forty-year-running Saturday afternoon Talmud shiur to continue their learning despite his approaching retirement to Jerusalem.

Thanks to Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon, some 500,000 Americans will run in marathons this year. In my book Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World’s Greatest Footrace (Syracuse University Press, 2004), I show how Lebow, a Holocaust survivor, changed the notion of this 26.2 mile race, which this year will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from a grueling, sweaty showcase for elite runners into a people’s competition.

Clichéd postmortems analyzing Israel’s failure to deal Hezbollah a clear defeat miss the point in blaming Prime Minister Olmert’s lack of military experience or native ineptness. The key reasons for Israel’s poor performance are deeper and far more ideological.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/welcoming-israels-newest-olim/2008/01/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: