Itzik Abu-Hatzera rarely attended synagogue in his native Haifa when he lived in Israel. But last December his family was among those of nearly 200 other Israelis in South Florida at a Chanukah party sponsored by the Chabad Israeli Center in Boca Raton. “In Israel you don’t need it, Jews are all around you,” says Abu-Hatzera, who moved here 10 years ago. Like Abu-Hatzera, the rabbi of the Chabad center, Naftali Hertzel, is Israeli. At the Chabad he runs with his wife, Henya, Hebrew is the lingua franca. That, rather than the specific religious components of the evening, was why Abu-Hatzera and his family came here rather than to one of many similar Chanukah events organized by American Jews in this heavily Jewish area.
Merav and Roy Lobel are going back to Israel. Since the birth of their baby boy, now eight months old, they have longed to be with their families. Each time they've hung up the phone after a call to Israel, they've felt as if part of their heart was still there.
Zeev Boim argued that the key to luring back expats lies in providing decent jobs, and that Israel's strong economy, especially in the high-tech sector, is in a position to offer such employment.
Between 150,000 and 300,000 expatriate Israelis live in the Los Angeles area, and some of them are pushing for the right to cast absentee ballots in Israeli elections.