web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 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 a senior political scientist at CUNY and author most recently of “A Jewish Professor's Political Punditry” (Syracuse University Press, 2013).


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
Israeli soldiers seen praying in the compound of Joseph's Tomb in the Samaria city of Nablus early in November 2009.  Believed to be the final resting place of the Biblical patriach, Joseph's Tomb has seen fierce Israeli-Palestinian. (FILE)
Arab Terrorists Attempt to Torch Joseph’s Tomb
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Ron Rubin
President Barack Obama

During Obama’s tenure, Jews identifying as Republican or “leaning” Republican jumped more than 50%

Chabad-affiliated St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue,

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

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.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: