Maybe you came this past summer, four years ago or back in 1970. Maybe you made Aliyah from Teaneck, Woodmere, Toronto, Melbourne or Hendon. Maybe you came as a single, a newly married couple or with your eight children. Whatever the case, whenever it was and wherever you’re originally from, the most important part is that – Baruch Hashem – you are now home!
The question that I would like to focus on is simply; “Why”? Why did you do it? Why did you make such a major move in your life? I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’m sure you left behind a lot of family and friends and I’m doubly sure that many of them let you know about it many times throughout the year!
So, why… why the Aliyah? Let’s be honest with ourselves. If you picked up this publication I am going to assume that you are weren’t born in Tel Aviv or Beersheva. You are an English speaker who made aliyah from the USA, Canada, England, Australia, South Africa or Ireland. Life in those countries for Jews, in the last 30 years, has not been so miserable. While anti-semitism is definitely on the rise, especially in Europe, you probably didn’t run away from a pogrom, crusade or a horrific life. Actually, many of you reading this, probably had wonderful lives in “Chutz La’Aretz”. Big houses, nice salaries, 2-3 cars, fancy vacations, fantastic sleep-away camp for the kids and many comforts that most people living here only dream about. So why did you give it all up to move to Israel?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to discourage you. I am elated that you are here… and more than that; I am one of you! I made Aliyah in 1990 with my wife and four children from the “Five Towns” (Long Island, NY) and Baruch Hashem, added two more Bnei Brak-born Sabras to that list. My only reason for asking that question is to focus your attention and open your eyes to what has been forgotten by most English speaking olim: We came here to make a difference!!!
I will be the first to admit that there’s no comparison to raising kids in Israel vs. Chutz La’Aretz. I will further admit that our quality of life is far superior to what it was back in “the old country” – young and old. And finally, I agree that living in Israel helps you rearrange your list of priorities in a manner that most of our friends back there simply cannot comprehend.
But that’s not why I made Aliyah. I came here to make a difference. I came here because I loved Israel so much and didn’t want to just complain about it all day long. I came here because I smelled the “geulah” yet couldn’t touch it in New York. After 6,000,000 brothers and sisters of mine were thrown into ovens and gas chambers, I couldn’t allow myself to sit comfortably and watch Jewish history play itself out on a TV screen. I needed to be a part of that history.
Please engrave this on your heart: You came here to make a difference; a difference in your private life… and a difference in your national life. This must never be forgotten! Making aliyah is not about moving to a new and different country. That’s what happens when you move from London to Chicago. It’s not about learning the new driving rules, the language or how to read product labels in the supermarket. It’s not about getting used to kid’s coming home from school at 2:30 or about working on Sunday. It’s about fulfilling a national destiny and helping change this country into a strong and proud Jewish State!
One of the major mistakes made by olim is the focus on their private lives. Of course we must get these things in order; from joining the right Kupat Cholim to finding the perfect shul to dovin in but that must not be the only focus. We must get involved in national matters of concern as well. Face it… you are no longer a minority in a foreign country. You are not in the galut anymore. You are home. Repeat that line (and say it out loud with excitement, vigor and passion): You are home! This is your home, your country, your army, your court system and your educational network… and just like you need to get your personal things in order – you had better start working on your national “to-do list” as well.
The first thing you need to do – immediately after getting your Teudat Zehut – is to join a political party. That’s right. You must become a member of one of Israel’s political parties because if you really want to make a difference – as I am sure you do – you cannot do it from the outside. Holding a sign at some demonstration or adding your name to a petition just doesn’t cut it. Here in Israel there is no such thing as not talking politics. It’s passed from mother to child in her milk. It’s discussed in business meetings and over millions of cups of coffee each day. Its part of life and rightfully so! After all, this is not about someone else’s country… it’s about you and your family!!
Around the world elections take place all the time and while you may prefer one candidate over another, in most cases, it really doesn’t matter who wins. Life goes on, the kids grow up and things are great. In Israel, however, if the wrong candidate gets elected, you can find your entire village destroyed, your house uprooted, your factory closed and your city rocked by rockets and missiles. Think I’m kidding? Ask the people from Gush Katif, Sderot and Kiryat Shemona.
Getting involved in Israeli politics is a must – especially for olim from Western countries who truly know what a democracy is. I am sure that you have seen great things accomplished by serious people who used the democratic process to make dramatic changes in many ways. Let’s start making those changes here as well! Join a political party – any one that speaks to you – make your voice heard and start making a difference!!!
-Shmuel Sackett is a member of Likud’s Central Committee. He made Aliyah in 1990 and is the co-founder and International Director of Manhigut Yehudit. He lives with his family in Herzilia Pituach. Feel free to email him at: Shmuel@manhigut.org