Back in June 2007, I wrote a column for Arutz Sheva, (aka israelnationalnews.com), outlining the top ten excuses Diaspora Jews give for not making aliyah. It made some people feel angry, some inspired, some ashamed, and some resentful. Here’s the bare-bones list:
10. But I can’t leave my family members
9. But I can’t make a living
8. But I don’t speak Hebrew
7. But I’m afraid for my life
6. But I don’t like the mentality
5. But I don’t want to live under Olmert and Peretz (substitute with basically any Israeli leader)
4. But I can do more for Israel in the US
3. But my spouse doesn’t want to go
2. But I’m a rabbi or Jewish educator bringing hundreds of Jews closer to Yiddeshkeit
1. Use your imagination
I’m sure I run the risk of being called a hypocrite after leaving Israel nine years after making aliyah, the reasons for which I’ve chronicled ad nauseum in this here blog. But at least I made aliyah! I got my Israeli teudat zehut (ID) to show for it. Furthermore, I covered my back with a loophole: “I ask aliyah-dodgers to please stop offering excuses, and instead offer real reasons, even if some of them may reveal your clash of values or lack of integrity. It would be much more honest and praiseworthy if you submit: I like Israel in theory, not in practice; I don’t want to give up my comfortable life; it’s too hard and I don’t want it bad enough.”
I still believe that “excuses” prevent all of us from truly realizing our potential and goals, especially as they relate to our commitment Israel.
So I’m eager to meet two Jews in their early twenties whose reasons for making aliyah were stronger than their excuses for not leaving the comforts of California. Jolene IIkay, 23, of San Diego, first fell in love with Israel on a Birthright trip. She went back on a slew of programs, including a semester at Tel Aviv University and a half-year at the Neve Yerushalayim yeshiva for women in Jerusalem. On her last visit, she met her Israeli boyfriend, an students at IDC. Mickey Warren Jolles, 24, of Fresno was born in Israel and always wanted to return. Post-high school he went on the year-long Young Judea program and reconfirmed his commitment to aliyah. He plans on attending Ulpan Etzion in Haifa and then serving in the army before continuing on with his education.
On September 7 I’ll be joining these new olim on the Zion-bound charter flight organized by Nefesh B’Nefesh, the pro-aliyah organization that has helped thousands of Jews overcome their excuses for not making aliyah. I’ll chronicle their hopes, dreams and fears as part of the “The Nefesh B’Nefesh Second Annual International Jewish Bloggers Convention - Powered by WebAds” taking place in Jerusalem and in cyberspace on September 13.
I wonder, as I interview them, how I’ll feel hearing about their decisions to move to Israel. Will I feel envy that I couldn’t make aliyah with the kind of support system they’re receiving? Will I see in them my lost naivete? Will I realize I’m living a life of “excuses”? Or will I simply remain emotionally detached from Israel as I have tried to remain since leaving the homeland exactly a year ago?
Stay tuned for our journey!