By Shmuel Sackett
Five years ago, after Hurricane Sandy, I wrote an article which began with the following words; “In the last 24 hours (since the hurricane), 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 outside Israel. 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.”
Those words were written in 2012 and now, after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, I want to write them again, but – this time - even stronger: Under no circumstances should one make Aliyah because of a hurricane. Israel is not a homeless shelter for people whose homes flooded or whose roofs caved in. And do you know why?? Because people who live in shelters, always want to go back to their “real” homes and will never – and I mean NEVER – be happy living elsewhere. They will always be looking back, remembering what wasand wondering what could have been. Sorry, but that’s not the way to move to Israel.
In pre-state days, back in 1945, things were much different. The Jewish nation, primarily in Europe, was broken into many pieces and hundreds of thousands had nowhere to go. Baruch Hashem, many of those broken Yidden came to Israel where they began putting their lives back together. Shortly after that, in the 50’s the big wave of Aliyah came from our Sefardic brothers and sisters who left Morocco, Yemen, Turkey, Iraq and similar countries.
Years later, Jews came from Ethiopia and the former USSR. While those Jews did not have flooded basements, their lives were a living hell and they had to get out quickly! As a result, since many of them they did not move to Israel for the right reasons, a large number kept looking back, saying “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons…” (Ba’midbar 11:5). This may be a reason why many of their children now live outside Israel. (Note: As many as 50% of the Russian Jews who came to Israel in the 90’s already left Israel)
Therefore, please, please – do this country a favor and do not consider it your “last resort”. Do not come here only when all else has failed. Israel should never be viewed as the “Jewish Insurance Policy” because even though we all pay insurance… who really wants to use it??
Israel is a place you come to with happiness, joy and great anticipation. As you pack your belongings, you also pack your dreams and aspirations since Israel is the place where those dreams will come to life! The day you arrive is not Tisha B’av… its Purim, with one difference. When you come to Israel, you take off your costume! You are no longer a Jew hiding amongst the Gentile world playing “make believe”. You are a Jew living, breathing and thriving among fellow Jews in a Jewish state with a Jewish army. The day you come to Israel is therefore a day of great joy and a personal Yom Tov!! It’s like winning the gold medal after 10 years of training day and night. You made it to the top of Mount Everest! Flooded basement?? Hurricane Irma?? What are you talking about??? That has nothing to do with it.
So, come home for the right reasons! Come home because your Jewish soul cannot bear being outside the land Hashem gave us for one more minute. Come home because with all due respect to the wonderful Jewish communities around the world, you want to connect to the nation and not just the community.
Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters; fulfillment of this dream – and your destiny – has nothing to do with the “weather”… just “whether” or not you want to be part of the greatest gift – and challenge – that Hashem has given our people in the last 2,000 years.
Next year in Jerusalem… rain or shine!