Within 24 hours after Hurricane Sandy, I received 10 phone calls and over 30 emails from fellow Israelis telling me to write about the need for American Jews to make Aliyah as soon as possible. One said, “They should see this as a sign” while another told me how “if they need to rebuild, let them do it in Israel”. Here is what I said to them:
While I want every single Jew to leave the diaspora and come home to live in Israel, I do not want them to do it because their basement flooded, they had no electricity for 10 days or because they had to wait on a gas line for 4 hours. I want Jews to come home because their lives are not complete in Queens, Teaneck or the 5 Towns. I want Jews to come home, regardless if they keep Mitzvot or not, because that is where the Jewish family lives and families stay together. I want Jews to come home because in 1948 our Father in Heaven gave us the most wonderful gift in the last 2,000 years and we need to embrace, nurture and appreciate that gift.
While I am 6,000 miles away from New York, I have many loved ones and dear friends back in the “old country” and I have been following the news closely. The devastation has been enormous and beyond description and I have been praying for everyone to be safe.
The chesed that I have read about has been nothing short of incredible. Complete families from Long Island staying by strangers in Kew Gardens Hills, laundry being done for random people, daily meals for residents in local Yeshivot, teenagers volunteering 15 hours a day to pump water out of homes and the distribution of free, new clothing. This is Am Yisrael at its finest and I am proud to be a member of the tribe.
We are truly a remarkable people. I do not see any of the other communities rallying behind their “chevra” like the Yidden. Instead, I see long lines of unfortunate people yelling and screaming at FEMA, blaming Mayor Bloomberg and inching closer and closer to violence. These scenes give special meaning to the bracha we say each morning; “Shelo Asani Goy”.
Yet, with all this chesed and brotherhood among our people, I want to stress that while my position on making aliyah is clear – that it must come through love and excitement, not frustration or despair – I do want each and every person reading this to – AT LEAST – start thinking about it.
That nice house you have can become a living hell in minutes. That amazing 4 wheel drive Land Rover can become useless just as quickly and your manicured lawn can look like a junkyard in seconds. All the material possessions can disappear and you will be left with nothing but a big mortgage payment without the house!
I want to point out some more things which may have been overlooked during this time. Weather experts state that “super-storms” should hit the USA once every 100 years but there have been 3 in the last 7 years! Now these experts are saying that these super-storms will hit on a regular basis. I saw a video that Agudah of Bayeswater just finished renovations from the damage done during Hurricane Irene when it was damaged again – and far worse – during Hurricane Sandy.
On a totally different track, I fear that the recent events will cause a serious rise in anti-semitism. History has taught us that desperate people do desperate things and, for some reason, the Jews always seem to end up on the wrong side of that equation.
Dearest brothers and sisters; the time has come to realize that life in the Galut is simply over for Bnei Yisrael. The time to come home is now but not because of a flooded basement. (Allow me to let you in on a secret; some basements flood in Israel as well. Shhhh – don’t tell anybody!) Life has been good for the Jews in America but as you saw with Sandy, things can change in the blink of an eye. Material possessions can be lost, investments can turn sour and violence can become routine.
Aliyah is a process and needs to be planned properly. Start thinking about it now. Get it into your head that your future lies elsewhere and then make it happen. I will personally help with any questions you may have. During these days of tremendous chesed, I cannot bring blankets nor water bottles but I can give some wonderful advice about living the dream of “Lech Lecha”. That is the chesed that I can do from 6,000 miles away.
So, next year in Jerusalem… or Ra’anana… or Netanya… or Efrat… or – you get the point. Start thinking about it today.