Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 02/02/2011

Returning to the Promised Land

Arriving home

What does ‘making aliyah’ mean? It means literally ‘ascending’ (spiritually as well as physically) or ‘going up to Jerusalem’ but it is largely used to describe the immigration to Israel from all the lands where Jewish people have been exiled by God for almost 2000 years. This phenomenon has been taking place for over 100 years, even before Israel regained international statehood. Jews from all the nations of the diaspora (dispersion) have felt the tug in their hearts to ‘go home’ to their land. In fact, a common saying at Sabbath dinners, holy day observances, daily prayer times has been for centuries: ‘next year in Jerusalem’.

“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel”‘” (Ezekiel 11:17)

Because of this aliyah explosion, the population of Israel has grown from 100,000 to over 7 million today. People are still streaming in from over 100 nations. The ‘right of return’ allows anyone who can prove he/she is a Jew to have Israeli citizenship. Upon their arrival the Israeli government gives them financial help to get settled (klitah), including finding a home, learning the Hebrew language, and finding employment. Many of these Jews have come from places where anti-semitism is still running rampant. I know one Russian Jew here in the U.S. who claims her family was not allowed to practice their religion in Russia and were persecuted terribly. Even though she’s been in the U.S. for many years, she is still fearful of admitting she is Jewish.

“Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more; nor shall the sons of wickedness oppress them anymore, as previously” (1 Chronicles 17:9).

Imagine the joy that families have when they arrive in their homeland for the first time! All their lives they have yearned for this; the French have France, the Italians have Italy, the Spanish have Spain, etc. etc. but the Jews had no place to call home. They now have a land where they do not need to fear persecution. Although their enemies surround them still and try to take the land away from them, ‘pushing Israel into the sea’, nevertheless they live in hope and joy at being together in the Promised Land. Jews even from the U.S. have made aliyah and are so happy there. There are many organizations, Jewish and Christian, which send aid to Jews worldwide to help them immigrate to Israel. Many Jews have destroyed their papers proving their Jewishness because of persecution, yet now they need them in order to return. These organizations help with that and also with money for transportation and settlement. You may read many articles in the news portraying Jewish settlement as a bad thing, but if you believe the Bible, you can’t deny that the land belongs to the Jews and always will.

From the beginning, aliyah was the foundation stone of the new state of Israel. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, declared ‘We call upon the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to unite with us in our homeland by making Aliyah, by building the Land and by taking part in the momentous undertaking of the redemption of the Jewish people, which has been the dream of generations.” The ingathering of the exiles to their ancestral homeland is the raison d’etre (justification for existence) of the State of Israel.

“Fear not for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north ‘Give them up!’; and to the south ‘Do not keep them back!’; ‘Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth!’ (Isaiah 43:5-6)


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