What Are You Waiting For?

Caveat: This is not meant to imply that aliyah is easy…it isn’t. It is not supposed to imply that our aliyah was easy….it wasn’t.  There are few things in life that are easy but worthwhile? Oh yes…and so I ask….

What are you waiting for?

Sometimes, simple truths really are… well, simple.

In a complex world, we worry about all the angles, all the issues. And, in hesitating until everything becomes clear, we miss the simple truth, the simple solution. We paralyze ourselves as time passes and, worst of all, we rationalize away the dangers of today, as we magnify the potential dangers of the unknown. It was safe before, we kid ourselves, it will be safe again. Tomorrow will be better. They can’t really hate us that much, or worse, they don’t really hate us — they hate Israel and as soon as they realize… it will be okay. Just one more day, one more week, one more month…

So what prompts all this philosophizing?

For the life of me, I don’t understand the Jews living in France. I don’t understand the Jews living in Poland. I don’t understand the one Jew living in Afghanistan (nor the one living in Eritrea) and I can’t believe there are still 100 Jews in Egypt, Algeria, Iraq or Botswana. I don’t understand the Jews living in the Ukraine and, to be honest, I don’t much understand the Jews living in America either.

The only place, at this point, where I can understand Jews living is Israel — and maybe Canada and Micronesia. I don’t necessarily agree with Jews staying in Canada, but at least for today, I can understand it. As for Micronesia, I don’t actually know where Micronesia is and as far as I can tell, Google and common sense say there aren’t any Jews living there  but they support Israel time after time (maybe because they figure the Arabs can’t find them either?).

But seriously — if you are a Jew living in the Ukraine today, why aren’t you packing your bags? If you are a Jew living in France, do you really expect it to get better? And, if you are a Jew living in the US, do you expect your grandchildren to still be Jewish?

Don’t tell me how hard moving to Israel is — I did it. I came here with three small children and no savings in the bank. We were lucky and blessed and have worked very hard to get where we are. I was lucky — I was offered a job three days after I moved here; my husband came a few months before and a company promised to hire him. Why? Because he told them he was willing to start the next day and his wife would ship him clothes. They told him to go back to the States, pack his bags and come home to Israel in two months. He did.

We were lucky because we came when our children were young enough to learn the language quickly and we weren’t picky about where we would live. We were blessed because out of the job I was offered, I built a career and a company. We were blessed because when the first place we chose to live didn’t work out, we moved into the most amazing of cities and communities here in Maale Adumim.

It wasn’t easy and it won’t be easy for the Jews who move here from wherever they are now. But it isn’t nearly as complex or dangerous as remaining in places where you aren’t welcome; where you have to hide who and what you are.

Once the road to Israel was physically dangerous — now, you are a flight away. That’s all it takes. Pack your bags, go to the nearest Israeli embassy or consulate and say, “I want to go home.”

Can Israel handle a mass immigration? We did it before. No one asked Israel if it could accommodate a mass influx of Jews from the Arab countries or from the Soviet Union. They came, they were helped. They learned; they assimilated into the country. We have absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews who came because they couldn’t stay. My next door neighbors are Moroccan, Yemenite, French, American, Russian, South African, British and even some who are several generations Jerusalemites.

Easy? No, not easy, but not nearly as complex as you would imagine and the journey that will change your life begins with a first step. Decide to leave now.

One of my uncles just visited Israel for the first time since 1971. Everywhere we went, he was amazed — by the roads, by the buildings, by the technology. There are few countries in the world as modern as Israel, and none, not a one, that is as safe. Yes, that’s right — safe.

Crime is very low here; healthcare unbeatable, even with the recent Hadassah strike and even with limits to the national healthcare packages. The air is clean; the water of excellent quality. The vegetables are fresh; the bread baked daily and brought to the stores. Yes, life really can be that simple if you don’t insist on making it so complex.

Why, why are you staying in frozen lands where you have to hide your Jewishness when today, in the middle of our winter, it was sunny and in the 70s. Where today, the Jewish Sabbath, our synagogues were full and bursting with song and pride. And tomorrow, we’ll start our work week. Our children will go to school or to some of the best universities in the world.

What holds you to a place where honestly, you know you aren’t wanted? Why would a Jew remain in Poland in the shadow of the concentration camps? Why live in France and worry about the safety of your children?

“Jews, out of France,” they screamed out in a protest attended by 17,000 people. No, not in the 1940s but just last month. What I want to ask the Jews who live there is what in God’s name, are you waiting for?

The European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights did a survey of almost 6,000 Jews living in eight countries. More than 75% said they felt that anti-Semitism is on the rise. An amazing 38% of the Jews polled  in Sweden, France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Latvia said they frequently avoid wearing anything that would indicate they were Jewish (skullcaps, jewelry with Jewish symbols, etc.). Many said they have been harassed or encountered anti-Semitic acts.

While anti-Semitism appears to be down in the United States overall, there is a marked increase on US colleges. That means while you might be safe, your college-age children are not.

Is life easy in Israel? Compared to what Jews are going through now in the Ukraine, France and elsewhere, actually, it probably is… on one condition — that you come here ready to be Israeli, ready to live here as we do. You might not be able to afford such a big house, two large cars and Hershey’s chocolates. The house might be smaller, maybe even an apartment. You might have to take public buses and trains and eat Elite chocolate — but you’ll be safe, you’ll have a present and a future as human beings and as Jews. Your sons and daughters will grow tall and proud; your grandchildren will walk in a land they own.

No, life isn’t easy in Israel, but it isn’t nearly as hard as living where you are waiting, just waiting until an ancient and modern disease strikes too close.

What, what in God’s name are you waiting for?

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