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February 11, 2016 / 2 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘aliyah’

India’s Young Jews Eye Israel

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Mumbai, formerly Bombay, is home to the majority of India’s Jewish population. Among the 12 million people that make up the city, some 4,000 Jews live in the city.

While many of India’s Jews have immigrated to Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere, around 5,000 Jews continue to live in the ancient community, which according to some sources dates back to the time of King Solomon.

A group of 22 young Indian Jews, mostly from the Mumbai area recently visited Israel on a free Taglit-Birthright Israel educational trip for 10 days (June 5-14) to explore the Jewish state and meet with their Israeli peers, some of Indian origin as well.

“It was an amazing trip,” said Adina Tambde, 21, from Mumbai in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. “I didn’t feel like a tourist here; I felt very at home. Israel is very welcoming,” she told Tazpit. “The moment when we first landed was very special.”

“It’s easier to keep kosher here – you can eat almost anywhere,” Tambde told Tazpit. “Although 10 days, without spicy food was a bit hard,” she joked.

Tambde also met her Israeli cousin for her first time during the trip – Tomer, who is an IDF soldier and accompanied the group for some of the visit. “I don’t have Jewish friends back in India,” she said. “Two days before the trip, I found out that I had a cousin that I would meet. Adina’s uncle had made aliyah to Israel years before and Tomer grew up in Holon.

Tambde recently completed her college studies in business in Mumbai and is currently exploring options to pursue her master’s degree in Israel. “In India, people admire you for being Jewish and it’s safe for Jews there,” she says. “But it’s difficult to fully follow Judaism and traditions too.”

It was Adina’s first visit to Israel like the other Indian Jewish participants. The group toured around the country, including Tiberias, Golan Heights, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem,Yad Vashem, and an Indian spice shop in the Ramle market.

The first Taglit-Birthright trip for Indian Jews, with around 12 participants, took place in 2001. Since then, the numbers have grown, with as many as 40 participants in some years. In 2014, around 32 Indian Jews took part in the Taglit-Birthright trip.

Sifron Penkar, 26, from Pune, near Mumbai, told Tazpit that many things about Israel surprised him. “There’s a lot more discipline here – drivers stop at the red light,” he says. “Mumbai is a lot busier, chaotic.”

The technological and scientific advances of Israel attracted Penkar, who also said he came to check out work opportunities during the trip. He wants to work on improving his Hebrew when he returns to India through “self-study.”

For others, like 18-year-old Steffi Elias, who studies fashion design in India, the trip to Israel was a significant spiritual experience. “The Wailing Wall had a huge spiritual impact on me,” she said. “I would love to come back here in the future but we will see where time takes me,” she told Tazpit. “I’m too young to decide where my future will be now.”

Spain Passes Citizenship Restoration Law for Jews Expelled in 1492

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It has only taken a half a millenium, but on Thursday Spain passed a law granting citizenship to any descendant of Jews expelled from the country in 1492.

The law – which took three years to create – was hailed as a “historic rehabilitation” by Justice Minister Rafael Catala and Foreign Minister Manuel Garcia Margallo.

It was in 1492, as Colombus was preparing to set sail to explore the New World that Jews were given an ultimatum: convert to Christianity, or leave.

Those who stayed and pretended to convert became known over the centuries as “Marranos” – the “hidden” ones – or “Anusim” – the “forced” ones. Their descendants are scattered throughout the world, including many who later ended up intermarrying with Muslims, some who live in Judea and Samaria. Their families still keep fragments of Jewish traditions in their homes, although most no longer remember why.

The Jews who chose to preserve their identity and left, fled to North Africa and the Middle East, many of whom arrived in what is now known as Turkey.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain said in an official statement on Thursday that passage of the law in Madrid had launched a “new stage in the history of the relationship between Spain and the Jewish world; a new period of encounter, dialogue and harmony.

Contrary to what one might think, the descendants of those expelled not harbored feelings of hatred or resentment but rather the contrary, they cultivated a deep love for the land they were from and intense loyalty to tradition and language received of their elders,” the statement continued.

The law goes into effect in October, when the Jewish community can begin the process of checking the lineage of anyone who wishes to activate their once-proud centuries-old Spanish citizenship.

That process involves proving one’s ancestry, showing a basic knowledge of Spain and its culture, and embarking upon a minimum of one pilot trip to the country. In addition, one must pay an application fee of 100 Euros for the privilege. So much for “restoration.”

Under Israel’s Law of Return, any person is entitled to citizenship in the Jewish State if he or she can prove that one grandparent — either maternal or paternal — is Jewish. The pace of the “ingathering of the (Jewish) exiles” described in the Torah has been growing over the past decade. Jews who were driven from the Land of Israel by the Romans and the Babylonians have begun to return through the efforts of groups such as Michael Freund’s Shavei Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh and others.

6 Anglo Aliyah Immigrants to Receive NBN Bonei Zion Prize

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Six olim (immigrants) from English-speaking countries who have made a major impact on the State of Israel will be awarded the Nefesh B’Nefesh 2015 Bonei Zion Prize next Tuesday, May 12 in a ceremony at the Knesset Auditorium.

MK Tzachi Hanegbi will attend and also present an additional Lifetime Achievement Award to Tal Brody for his contribution to shaping and helping Israel though sports and dedicated hasbarah (public communications) efforts.

Professor Charles Sprung, director of the General Intensive Care Unit at Hadassah Medical Organization is to receive an award in the field of Science and Medicine.

Jon Medved, founder and CEO of OurCrowd will receive an award for his work in the field of Entrepreneurship and Technology.

Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, founder and executive director of ITIM, the organization that helps people who want to convert to Judaism, will receive an award for his work in the field of Community and Non-Profit.

Chana Reifman Zweiter, founding director of Kaleidoscope / The Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network, is set to be awarded the prize in the field of Education.

Asher Weill, publisher and editor, will be awarded the prize in the field of Culture, Sports & Arts.

IDF Staff Sgt. Asaf Stein, PhD, will receive the IDF and National Service Young Leadership Award.

Nefesh B’Nefesh was founded in 2002 to help increase the success of North American aliyah to Israel. In cooperation with the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel, the organization continues its commitment to bringing Jews from North America and the UK on aliyah to Israel.

NBN works to remove or minimize financial, professional, logistic and social obstacles that are often involved in a move to the Jewish State through its unique support and comprehensive social services. As a result, more than 90 percent of the “anglos” who have moved to Israel with the help of NBN have remained there.

Anti-Semitism Drives European Jews to Israel

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Anti-Semitism is the driving force behind Aliyah from Western Europe to Israel, according to Prof. Robert Wistrich, head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.

“It is indisputable that the dominant factor behind Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe is anti-Semitism,” Wistrich told the Tazpit News Agency.

The Jewish Agency for Israel said in a new report that Aliyah to Israel from Western Europe in the first quarter of 2015 was unchanged from the same period last year.

However, the statistics revealed that a large increase in the number of immigrants (olim) arriving from Eastern Europe, where an unstable economic and security situation prompted more emigration. Ukrainian Aliyah alone rose by a whopping 215 percent compared to the same period last year.

“Any comparisons to the situation in Ukraine, where Aliyah is also caused by anti-Semitism, although to a smaller extent, is a false comparison,” Wistrich said.

One reaction to the Jewish Agency’s report, in some Israeli and international newspapers, declared that anti-Semitism is simply one of many factors behind Aliyah from Western Europe. Economic considerations were touted as a more influential factor.

Wistrich, however, thoroughly disagreed with that analysis. He claimed that such statements were “jumping to conclusions,” and ignored long-standing work.

Jewish Life in Baltimore: Private Guards on Shabbat

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Baltimore’s Shomrim Safety Patrol organization arranged for private security officers to patrol the city’s large Jewish neighborhood on Shabbat in the wake of riots this week.

Baltimore Jewish Life reported, Friday, “We as a community pray for calm and peace to be restored, and that all the citizens of this great city be safe and secure in their neighborhoods and homes.”

Several Jewish businesses and store were looted during the riots following the death of Freddie Gray while he was in prison.

Six police officers have been charged in connection with the death of Gray, bringing out victory marches by the black community but doubts whether the charges will results in prosecutions.

The Baltimore Jewish community is one of the largest and most contiguous in the United States. It also is one of the most religious and most Zionist when it comes to giving money to Israel and less Zionist when it comes to moving to Israel.

Approximately one-third of the area’s more than 100,000 Jews are Orthodox or part of the Hareidi Agudah community, and a large percentage of the others are Conservative or Reform.

There are many pro-Israel voices in the community, especially in the national religious synagogues, one of which is attended by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. Like elsewhere, Aliyah is preached more than practiced.

Maybe Aliyah was going through the minds of Jews walking to and from synagogues on Shabbat, but more likely, they were thinking about getting through the day unharmed and not about the day after tomorrow.

Below: Video of riot in Baltimore”

Ethiopian Doctor Who Lit Yom Ha’Atzmaut Torch Heads IDF Team in Nepal

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Israel’s first Ethiopian doctor, who lit one of the traditional torches on Yom Ha’Atzmaut give years ago, is leading the IDF medical team in Nepal.

Dr. Avi Yitzchak made Aliyah in the early 1990s in the Operation Shlomo airlift and has become a symbol of success for the Ethiopian community.

He arrived in Nepal five days ago, when he said there was absolutely nothing in the realm of first aid, and decided where to set up a field hospital, which went into operation immediately.

“We began accepting patients from the Nepalese army hospital that was not able to function well, especially in the field of surgery,” said Yitzchak, who specialized in surgery when he studied medicine at Soroka Hospital at Ben Gurion University.

“We are receiving citizens of Nepal with medical problems that the Nepalese army hospital cannot treat beaus they accept only soldiers and their families,” Dr. Yitzchak said from Katmandu.

When not in the army, Dr. Yitzhak works as a surgeon at Soroka.

When he was in Haiti in 2010, he said, “It’s unbelievable how the small State of Israel managed in 20 hours to establish  the most advanced field hospital in Haiti. There is a huge amount of gratitude for Israel’s efforts… I am proud to be a part of this.”

 

 

Six Million Excuses NOT to Make Aliyah

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Approximately 5-6 million Jews – depending on your definition – live in the United States, and almost every one has his or her own personal excuse to stay put.

The one overwhelming reason to leave the Diaspora, whether it is in North America, Europe or elsewhere, and join the Jewish People in Israel is the obvious one. This is home, admit it or not.

This year, I am celebrating my 32nd personal Yom Ha’Atzmaut since I left Baltimore on a one-way ticket to Israel during the Ten Days of Repentance in 1983.

After landing, and after 39 years of swallowing a non-Jewish culture and society to the point that I finally suffered from spiritual indigestion. I developed a very more-righteous-than-thou attitude that looked down on Jews who find reasons, or excuses, not to come to Israel.

I have since realized that I was imitating the good intentions but self-defeating methods of many Jews who return to Judaism and then demand that everyone else to do so, forgetting that others may have to get there their own way.

During one of my visits to Baltimore to be with my parents (z”l) for a few days, someone who attends a national religious synagogue offered me the most memorable response to my usual nudge of, “Nu, what is your excuse not to come home and live in Israel?”

He answered:

I know I should be living in Israel, but I like my ‘gashmus’ – meaning the material life and plush comforts.

Whoever argues that one can easily succeed very well at living a comfortable American life in Israel is whistling Dixie.

There are many Jews who come to Israel with lots of money, and there are same who come with little cash and have made a fortune. They do not lack much in the materialistic world, and they have their own Israel-style comforts and even their imported American comforts and habits.

The overwhelming majority of us, who have come to Israel from elsewhere, simply “get by” or do even better; but in any case, we are satisfied with what others might not consider a comfortable life.

I recall one American expatriate in Israel fielding questions from a group of people in Baltimore who were interested in making Aliyah. I already had moved to Israel, but on one of my visits to Baltimore, I was curious to hear what people asked about making the move.

One person inquired how much money he would need in his bank account before making Aliyah.

The answer was amazingly succinct and honest:

If you have to make an account of how much money you need, you never will have enough.

Of course, that is a generality that is not always true. It was easy for move to Israel because I was single at the time. I figured $500 for a ticket and $500 in my pocket from driving a cab for three months would be enough to keep me going, and it was.

A family with children certainly has to multiply that figure. The older the children are, the more Aliyah becomes problematic, financially and otherwise.

I suggest that the amount of money one thinks he needs to make Aliyah is in inverse ratio to how much he knows Israel is home.

And that is the crucial question, especially for Orthodox Jews who pray every day for the return to Israel.

It took me 39 years, over a long and winding road, before concluding:

If I am Jewish, and Israel is the Jewish home, then I am not a Jew if I am not home.

I cannot preach that to anyone else. Every single Jew has his or her own reasons – may I call them excuses? – not to make Aliyah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/five-million-excuses-not-to-make-aliyah/2015/04/23/

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