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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘aliyah’

Ethiopian Israelis Joyously Celebrate Sigd Day in Jerusalem

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis streamed to the capital on Wednesday to celebrate Sigd Day, the day when those of Jewish ancestry went to the mountain tops in the Horn of Africa to pray to one day live in Jerusalem.

The rain didn’t put the slightest damper on the celebrations at all.

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews take part in a prayer of the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooking Jerusalem.

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews take part in a prayer of the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooking Jerusalem.

Like many, for more than 2,500 years they believed in “Jerusalem of Gold” — that legendary Biblical city of gold, filled with the light of God and filled with the power of His Eternal Presence, the Shechinah.

Multiple generations of men, women and children who immigrated on aliyah to Israel from Ethiopia gathered in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, proud of having achieved their goal, having arrived at last.

Hana Levi Julian

700 Brazilian Jews to Make Aliyah in 2016, Triple the Annual Average

Monday, November 21st, 2016

According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency for Israel, some 700 olim from Brazil will have arrived in Israel by the end of 2016, more than three times the annual average of approximately 200. This marks a 45-year record in Brazilian Aliyah, which last reached similar levels in the 1970’s.

“The Brazilian Jewish community is a warm, Zionist community with strong ties to Israel,” said Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, who is currently visiting Brazil to survey Jewish Agency there and meet with the local Jewish community.

“Since Israel’s establishment, more than 15,000 Brazilian Jews have immigrated to Israel, contributing to the Jewish state’s national character and strength,” Sharansky said, noting that recent years have seen an increase in the number of Jewish young people from Brazil who have arrived in Israel to participate in the Jewish Agency experience programs through Masa Israel Journey.

Sharansky participated in a festive event organized by Confederação Israelita do Brasil (CONIB, the umbrella organization of Brazilian Jewry) Saturday night in São Paulo. During the course of his visit, he will also meet with Brazilian Jews who are about to immigrate to Israel, as well as with member of Jewish youth movements.

The head of the Jewish Agency delegation in Brazil, Revital Poleg, noted that Aliyah from this country has been steadily increasing over the past three years, along with interest in life in Israel. The increase in Aliyah is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis, but is also rooted in the Brazilian Jewish community’s strong ties to Israel. “Many of the immigrants note that they view Israel as a place where they can lead Jewish lives in an environment that feels like home,” said Poleg.

According to Poleg, “some seventy percent of the immigrants are young families who want to provide their children with high-quality education, or young people looking to start university studies in Israel and build their careers there.”

According to CONIB, the Jewish community of Brazil numbers approximately 120,000 and is the second largest in Latin America, after Argentina. The largest communities are located in São Paulo (55,000), Rio de Janeiro (30,000), and Porto Alegre (10,000). Approximately 100 smaller communities are scattered throughout Brazil, which is the fifth-largest country in the world.

David Israel

Why Aren’t You Exploring Aliyah?

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Life is filled with challenging decisions and we often say to ourselves, “If only God, Himself, would tell us what to do.”

If we open our ears when listening to this week’s Torah portion we will hear God settling one of life’s challenges – deciding where we should live.

In His very first words to a Jew, God instructs Abraham to leave the comforts of his homeland and go to the land of Israel (Genesis 12:1), clearly establishing that Israel is the land where a Jew should live.

But this first command to Abraham teaches us much more than just the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin1 wrote the following on God’s promise to Abraham that he would transform Abraham’s family into a “great nation” in the land of Israel (12:2):

“This is a sign for his descendants. One who is unsure whether he should immigrate to the land of Israel must first think about the good of his nation. It is impossible for the Jewish people to be a great nation outside its land. This is true both quantitatively – for the lands of our enemies consume us – and qualitatively, for the Divine Presence does not dwell in the Diaspora.”

In fact, God could not even appear to Abraham while he was dwelling outside of the land of Israel. The Torah relates: “The Lord appeared to Abraham and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’” (12:7) The Kli Yakar2 comments:

“The reason God did not appear to him immediately when He said, ‘Go forth from your land,’ is because Abraham was still in the Diaspora at the time…and the Divine Presence does not reveal itself outside the Land…Rather Abraham just heard a voice speaking. This is why he did not build an altar there…As long as God did not appear to him, however, he did not want to build an altar in a place where the Divine Presence does not rest.”

Aside from learning from God’s command, we can also learn from how Abraham responded to that command: “And Abraham went as God had spoken to him.” (12:4) The Netziv3 teaches:

“It means that he left immediately, while God was still speaking. He did not wait to take care of all the necessary preparations. He left immediately so that the selling of his estate and the like would not prevent him (from going)…After he began his journey and knew that nothing would prevent him from actually going, he saw fit to worry about his money…In the beginning, however, he estimated that staying back to protect his money could undermine the whole trip. He therefore decided to leave immediately. No matter what.”

Abraham heard that God told him it would be best for his nation and for himself to go to the land of Israel, so he did so without hesitation.

Earlier we referenced the first mention of this gift: “To your descendants I will give this land.” But a later reference has even greater implications. God says: “I will give to you and to your descendants after you the Land in which you sojourn, the entire Land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession, and I will be for them a God. (17:8)” Says Rashi, “There I will be for them a God, but a Jew who dwells in the Diaspora is like one who has no God.”

This Shabbat we will be inspired by Abraham’s relationship with God. We will experience Abraham’s excitement and anxiety in fulfilling God’s command to move to Israel. We will read God’s declaration that the Jewish People cannot fulfill their greatness as a nation outside of the Land of Israel. We will read how Abraham embarked on his journey to the Land of Israel immediately, ensuring that nothing hinder his fulfillment of God’s mission for him. We will read that only in the land of Israel can the apex of a harmonious relationship with God come to fruition.

Abraham did not have the luxury of a free flight in a jumbo jet to get to Israel – his travel was by foot, through the desert. Abraham did not have the convenience of contacting Nefesh B’Nefesh and learning about all of his employment options, housing options, and education options for his children in Israel. He did not have the opportunity to apply for a grant from NBN to help cover his moving costs, and there was no State of Israel to provide him with an absorption basket to help get himself on his feet in his new country. And to be sure, Abraham did not have Skype and Facetime to stay in visual touch with family members who remained behind.

So what’s holding you back from taking a serious look into making aliyah?

I hope that Jews around the world act on their inspiration from this week’s Torah reading. Following in the footsteps of Abraham is part of our DNA.4 I welcome you to simply contact Nefesh B’Nefesh and meet with them to explore all your options, and to make a smart decision. No cost, no obligation. They will tell you all you need to know.

For those who ultimately determine that they cannot move to Israel right now, either due to family or employment concerns, at the very least share the message with your children, and raise them to move to Israel. The message of the parsha and the gift which God has given us is crystal clear.

Now it’s left in your hands to accept and reap the benefits from God’s gift.

1. 1881-1966, vice chairman of the Council of Torah Sages in Israel and author of Oznaim LaTorah
2. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, 1550-1619
3. Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, 1816-1893, dean of the famed Volozhin Yeshiva and author of Ha’amek Davar
4. Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin (1749-1821) explains that Abraham accomplished certain things through very hard work, and this paved the way for these actions to be “like second-nature to his children who can achieve them with little effort.” He then notes that the awakening which people feel today to go to the Holy Land comes from the act of Abraham leaving his homeland to go to the land of Israel. It is ingrained in our DNA to give up the comforts of home to move to Israel. (Ruach Chaim Avot 5:3)
Rabbi Dov Lipman

Happy Aliyah (Election) Day

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

What a strange coincidence.

As Americans go to the polls today to choose between bad and worse, Israel is celebrating Aliyah Day – if you don’t get the connection, don’t worry.

Enacted in June, today is the first Aliyah Day, which coincides with the day – the 7th of Cheshvan – when we actually begin praying for the rain to fall (the delay from when we should say the prayer is to give the pilgrims (olim l’regel) from Babylon time to return to Babylon – which seems somewhat contradictory for Aliyah Day).

But as it happens, in most years Aliyah day falls out in the week of Parshat Lech Lecha – when God tells Abraham to go to the Land of Israel.

That probably also happened on an Election Day in Ur Kasdim – “Vote for Nimrod or get the fiery furnace” – not much a great choice back then either.


Happy Aliya Day, Everybody!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Today Millions of American Jews woke up with the sense of excitement that only happens when two essentially contradictory holidays take place on the same day, like Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter.

It so happens that on the day the United States is celebrating its Election Day, Israelis are joyously marking Aliyah Day. And should the results of today’s elections drive US Jews to make Aliyah, then the connection is absolutely self-explanatory.

Yom HaAliyah-Aliyah Day is an Israeli national holiday celebrated annually on the seventh of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. This date in itself is a celebration of the unique connection that existed during the time of the Second Temple between the Jews of Israel and their brothers and sisters in the diaspora: the rainy season officially begins on the rabbinic calendar on Shmini Atzeret, the holiday that seals the string of high holidays from Rosh Hashanah until Sukkot. But the rabbis decreed that we not begin to actually pray for rain until the 7th of Cheshvan, to allow the Babylonian Jews who just celebrated in Jerusalem to return home before it started to rain.

Strangely enough, the Knersset legislation known as the Aliyah Day Act 5776-2016 states that on the 7th of Cheshvan the country will celebrate the Israelites’ entrance into the Land of Israel on the 10th of Nissan. We called up the Knesset Aliyah Committee, and blessed Tzipi, who picked up the phone with “Happy Aliyah Day,” which absolutely made her day. As to the discrepancy between the two dates, she explained that the Cheshvan date was picked because the Nissan date falls on a school holiday, which is also a Knesset holiday, just before Passover. So they went with Cheshvan 7, when everybody is still fresh and full of zest at the start of the season.

Also, Cheshvan 7 usually falls on the week of Parshat Lech-Lecha, in which our biblical patriarch Abraham was told by God to leave his home and his family and go up to the Land of Israel.

So, if you want to show up your Israeli friends today, just wish them a Happy Aliyah day and watch them squirm…


NY Senator Chuck Schumer Slams BDS as ‘Modern Anti-Semitism’

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

New York Senator Chuck Schumer slammed the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement this week as a “modern form of anti-Semitism.”

Schumer said in an address to the Israeli American Council’s 2016 National Israeli American Conference that ultimately, BDS organizers don’t “believe there should be a Jewish State in the Middle East, and are guilty of the same anti-Semitism. We need to make that argument loudly and strongly and go against the BBDS movement and call it for what it is,” he said,” an anti-Semitic and not just anti-Israel movement.”

The senator added that he applauds the governors of New York and California for passing anti-BDS legislation.

But although anti-Semitism is clearly rising on the campuses of American colleges and universities, Schumer noted that the problem is even worse in Europe.

“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism seems to be in far too many European homes,” he said, pointing to the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party as one example.

“Europe has shown how anti-Israel and anti-Semitic the BDS movement really is. Far-right parties are experiencing a rebirth, and far-left parties … like the Labour Party under Corbyn, are increasingly anti-Israel.”

Corbyn has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the anti-Semitism of veteran members of the party, prompting the recent resignation of a prominent Jewish Labourite, Lord Parry Mitchell. Corbyn in the past also has expressed his “friendship” for the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations.

“Terrorism and violence against Jews is on the rise, from vandalizing synagogues to the horrible attack on a Jewish grocery in Paris,” Schumer pointed out.

“It is no wonder that last year France, home to the largest Jewish population in Europe, set a record for the migration of Jews to Israel,” he said.

Hana Levi Julian

Freida Sima Makes Aliyah

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Editor’s Note: This is the twelfth installment of a multipart series on the life and times of the author’s grandmother, Freida Sima, who as a young woman came to America on her own in the early 1900s and made her way in a new country. The eleventh part (“Freida Sima, Max, and the Golden Years”) appeared as the front-page essay in the Aug. 19 issue; part thirteen will run in September.


In July 1974, Freida Sima packed her bags and returned to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. Over the years she had spent most weekdays in the apartment she and her husband Max (or Mordche, as she always called him) had enjoyed together, but since his death in 1970, the Queens home of her daughter, Shirley, had become her home base.

Although arthritis made it increasingly difficult for her to walk, the kitchen remained her domain. It gave her pleasure to feel appreciated. Shirley and her husband, Chaskel, worked long hours in the travel business, and their young daughter (the author of this series) enjoyed the benefits of a “full time Baba.”

“It’s like raising another child,” thought Freida Sima, recalling Shirley’s teenage years. At least this one wasn’t running off to Young Socialist meetings like Shirley had, but rather to Orthodox youth activities and Soviet Jewry rallies.

More of the family was moving to Queens, and again she had family nearby. Her brothers Elish and Benny now lived ten minutes away. Her sister Sheindl and brother Tuleh from the Bronx and brother Abie from Washington Heights visited often. Brothers Srul and Leibush lived in Israel, and Freida Sima visited them there the summer after Max’s death. Sheindl had also come that summer, taking her to visit Sheindl’s late husband Naftula’s grave in Holon. When he got sick in America, Naftula dreamed of being buried in Israel and Sheindl spent her savings to fulfill his last request.

“But I’ll be buried with the family at Wellwood,” she promised Freida Sima, referring to the Long Island cemetery where the family had purchased plots decades before.

“And where will I be buried?” mused Freida Sima.

After Max’s death, Shirley and Chaskel had bought an apartment in Israel “for the future.” Suddenly the future was now. Soon after his 70th birthday, Chaskel sold his travel agency partnership and the family prepared to make aliyah, with Freida Sima set to join them a few months after they made the move.

* * * * *

Freida Sima loved America, her home for 63 years. However, she knew that at her age it was unrealistic to stay after Shirley moved. “And it’s not as if I don’t have brothers in Israel,” she thought, although she would miss her siblings in America. She loved them all so much, as she did their children.

Before Shirley and Chaskel left, the family gave them a gala send-off at a Queens café, with everyone signing the menu as a parting gift. They sang and danced, Benny holding in his arms his little grandson, a redhead like Freida Sima’s Shirley and like Freida Sima’s mother, Devorah, had been.

Thinking about her mother, Freida Sima couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that the family had become widely scattered: Abie had a daughter in Israel while he lived in New York. Srul had sons in New York and Denmark while he lived in Israel. Sheindl and Naftula’s daughters lived in Israel and Sheindl went back and forth constantly. And now she herself would soon be in Israel.

The next four months passed quickly. Two weeks before she left, Freida Sima gave up the Brighton apartment, dividing her furniture among relatives and moving in with her cousin Max Scharf in Washington Heights. Abie and his wife, Minnie (Max’s sister), lived in the same building, and Freida Sima ate with them, savoring her last days in the U.S. and reminiscing about the past with the first brother she had brought to America 54 years earlier.

The family threw Freida Sima a last birthday party in America. Surrounded by her brothers and her sister, she cut the cake Abie had ordered, on which the words “Happy Birthday Sister-Mother” appeared in chocolate icing. Indeed, she had been both sister and mother to her American family, both before the war, when their mother was far away, and afterward, when she was gone forever.

“That’s what it means to be the oldest of ten children,” she thought, and of all her siblings, the one who suddenly came to mind was little Mendel, born between Abie and Benny, who had died in an accident when he was two.

* * * * *

Before she turned around she was living in Israel, in Ramat Gan, once again running the kitchen. In addition, she was going to ulpan along with Shirley to learn Hebrew. For Shirley – the language major – learning Hebrew turned out to be a lost cause while Freida Sima, at home since childhood with the Yiddish alphabet (which in fact was Hebrew), had no trouble reading texts.

But understanding modern Israeli Hebrew was another matter, and she never picked up enough to understand news programs. When Judy came home from school once and asked her why she was watching an Arabic program, Freida Sima answered that it was all the same to her – she couldn’t understand either language when spoken rapidly.

Srul and Leibush visited constantly, but it was sometimes difficult to follow their Yiddish, which was as peppered with Hebrew expressions as hers was with English ones. And the siblings found they had less to talk about than they’d first expected due to a lack of mutual experiences and the age gap – after all, when Freida Sima left Europe for the U.S., she was fifteen while they were five and three. It was easier for Freida Sima when the American family came to visit.

But Freida Sima’s joy at her siblings’ visits turned to grief when she received news of her brother Tuleh’s death from illness in America. Like many Israeli homes of that time, the Ramat Gan apartment had no telephone and Shirley first received the news when shiva was almost over. She decided to give her mother the news after thirty days so that Freida Sima would only have to sit shiva for an hour rather than a full week.

Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/freida-sima-makes-aliyah/2016/09/14/

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