I am sitting here at my computer on Motzei Shabbat, and thinking how fortunate I was to be able to make aliya. I was also thinking how fortunate others were to be able to do the same. I was at a bar mitzvah this past week in Gush Etzion of the Goldbergs, formerly from New Rochelle, and I saw also at the bar mitzvah the Gottleibs, formerly of New Rochelle. The Goldbergs are currently living in Efrat and the Gottleibs are living in Ginot Shomron. I could see the happiness in their demeanor and the feeling of being a part of Eretz Yisrael. I saw their children, who were speaking rapid Hebrew and talking excitedly with their Israeli friends (many originally from the U.S.) I realized what a big step they had taken to leave the land of their parents, their friends and their jobs to fulfill a dream and a commandment. They were walking in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu when G-d said to him לך לך מארצך ומולדתך ומבית אביך אל הארץ אשר אראךLeave your land, your place ofbirth, the house of your father, to the land I will show you. Furthermore, there were many people at this affair who picked up everything, to fulfill this dream. These are fortunate people who had a dream and had the courage to live it.
This week I saw the same love of Israel manifested in many young couples moving to Yehuda and the Shomron. I heard from Ron Nachman, the founder and mayor of Ariel the same words of Ben Gurion. If you want the land to be yours, you must settle it. There are now about 20,000 people living in the beautiful city of Ariel which has a cultural center with a theater and library as well as a high class physical recreation center which serves the entire area. We see new and old immigrants starting to move to the Galil and Negev as well. We need thousands more to do the same. G-d gave us the land over 2000 years ago. It is now our destiny to settle it.. Each Jew must do their part. We cannot rely on others to do it for us.. It is up to us collectively to keep it. If not, it will be given away.
Two weeks ago I visited kibbutz Rivivim in the Negev. This was a kibbutz that was settled by pioneers in 1943 when Ben Gurion said to settle the Negev.” If you want the land to be yours, you must settle it.” This original group that settled Revivim, mainly new immigrants from Austria Italy and Germany were the bravest of the brave. They went to an area where there was nothing; no housing, no food, no water, no arable land, and very little ammunition to defend themselves. Some of these brave pioneers died in the early days leading up to the formation of the State, but they and other early settlements in the Negev were so successful that when the U.N. had to decide whether or not to include the Negev in the nascent State of Israel, it was included.
If you wish to remain in your country of birth because life is comfortable and easy it is certainly understandable. However, the same could be said of Jewish communities in the past such as those in Spain and Germany which no longer exist. Today living in Israel is amazing. It has become a thoroughly modern and advanced western society. You can see new highways, buildings, industrial parks, trains and ports being built. I would venture to say there are more charitable organizations per capita than anywhere in the world. There is a top-notch high tech sector as well as world class water use and conservation, and energy sectors.
In conclusion, Israel the Jewish homeland needs you, and just as importantly, you need it.