Some two-and-a-half millennia after God made this pledge, we are seeing the prophecy come to pass in front of our eyes as Jewish people from America to Australia and South Africa to Sweden and everywhere in between are leaving the nations of their birth to make aliyah (immigrate) to the Land of their promise.
While the choice to uproot and resettle is certainly in line with biblical prophecy, it comes at a great personal cost. In fact, when weighing the options from any logical perspective, the decision hardly seems like the obvious choice. Olim (immigrants to Israel) bid farewell to the comfort and security of home and loved ones, sacrifice flourishing careers, forego a future in a country at peace and due to soaring living costs, often resign themselves to a lower living standard. In return, they are immersed in a foreign culture and language, live under the constant threat of war and terror and must often start climbing the corporate ladder again—all while being maligned and slandered by world bodies and human rights organizations.
No, from a logical perspective, the decision to uproot and resettle in Israel does not seem like the obvious option. Yet it is a choice that increasingly more Jewish people from around the world make—and rejoice over.
We’ve asked a few olim to share why they’ve chosen—and continue to choose—life in Israel.
“It was a choice between studying the Tanakh [OT] or becoming it.”
—Rabbi Moshe Kempinski, teacher and owner of Shorashim biblical gift shop in the Old City of Jerusalem
“A Jew in the Diaspora is only a footnote. In Israel, even the sanitation worker is a chapter heading in the continuation of Jewish history.”
—Rabbi David Nekrutman, executive director of the Center for Jewish–Christian Understanding and Cooperation
“God is doing a great thing of the ingathering of the exiles and I have been ingathered, hearing His voice to be ingathered. That is something God is doing and we are following His commandments. He promised us that He would return us and He is doing that. We happen to be living in that lucky generation, in this great time. So we heard the call. It’s as simple as that.”
—Rabbi Yishai Fleisher, international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron
“It’s not just my past and present. Israel is my future, the only place in the world that gives my life a meaning, a direction to strive to. And what is the direction? It’s simple: getting as close as I can to the Shechinah, God’s presence in Zion.”
—Aaron Lipkin, Lipkin Tours
“I fell in love with Israel when I was very young and I visited with my family for the first time. I find it the most interesting and intense and exciting place I’ve ever been to. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
—Steve Linde, editor-in-chief, Jerusalem Report
“We want to be a part of what seems to be the greatest and most profound human experiment in the history of mankind. This epic ingathering of diverse but somehow linked communities as foretold by the prophecies and recorded thousands of years ago is something we want to help build a foundation for. It stems from our belief in and commitment to Hashem [God] and the Torah [Gen.–Deut.]…It’s clear that the goal is for the Israelite people to live independently and free in our Land because only here we can fully keep the Torah’s commandments and fulfill our potential as a light among the nations. This is something that I think is worth dedicating our lives to, investing in the Land of Israel, the Jewish people and our friends.”
—Baruch Erdstein, Orthodox Jewish man living with his family in Itamar, Judea and Samaria
“This is what Hashem commands me, a gift from Hashem or a covenant with Hashem. This is our precious land and Hashem ordered us to be here and to settle down here as a part of redemption.”
—Nati Rom, attorney and Israel advocate
“…We came to the realization that we felt more at ‘home’ here than we had ever felt back in the United States. We love the United States and are grateful for all of its gifts, but for our family, Israel had moved into our hearts and we couldn’t leave. For us, God’s faithful word to return His people home after 2,000 years of exile was a miracle and a gift that we were personally receiving. For us to leave, it would have been the worst form of ingratitude. And so, we chose to stay and make Israel our home. We remain in Israel because as Debbie [my wife] puts it: we have the opportunity here to become the best versions of ourselves. And that is a gift from God that we cherish.”
—Rabbi Yehoshua Looks, chief operating officer at Ayeka
“I didn’t choose Israel. Israel chose me.”
—Madeline Levine, tour guide
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