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Ingathering in the Promised Land

More and more coming home, and why I rejoice to see it.

by
P. David Hornik

Bio

April 27, 2014 - 8:00 am
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The first three months of 2014 saw a rise in aliyah—Jewish immigration to Israel. A 312% increase from France, 70% increase from Ukraine, 100% increase from Brazil. The absolute numbers are not huge; if the current rate continues, the total for this year will be about 20,000—compared to, for instance, much higher numbers of former-Soviet Union Jews who came to Israel in the 1990s.

The present uptick, though, appears likely to continue and could accelerate. Amid rising antisemitism, about two-thirds of French Jews are considering emigrating, and half of those are considering Israel. Similar, if somewhat less dramatic, numbers are reported among Jewish communities elsewhere in Europe.

I read such reports with elation, as if reading that I personally had won some prize or had some other good fortune coming my way. This is rather interesting in light of the fact that I’ll soon have been living in Israel for 30 years. More than enough time, of course, to get over romantic visions, to be inducted into the many dimensions of ordinary, flawed human reality that constitute Israel as they do other societies.

And yet, after almost 30 years, nothing—essentially—has changed the feeling I had when I came to live here on September 6, 1984. That this is the true home, that no other place where Jews live can come close to it.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Thanks so much for reporting from the ONLY foreign country I can actually care about. I loved every single minute of my brief visits in the 90's and would take my family back with me in a heartbeat if I had the chance. I felt more at home there than I do in many places in the US - and I'm not even Jewish.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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This is a great article. But another question for you: what about water? A llot of Israel is desert. How do you manage this necessity?
Thanks again.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Israel has made great strides in desalination. When in doubt, use the ocean.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
And thanks!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was there in '09 and '12 and loved it, especially Tel Aviv. My guess is that Israel's ranks will be swelled by the addition of around half a million British and French Jews between now and 2025 as anti-Jewish sentiment rises in both countries as a result of Muslim animosity and the government's refusals to do much about it.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure if David responds to comments on their articles - most PJM writers don't - but I've long been curious about how Israelis communicate with each other, especially those who are new to the country and may have little if any Hebrew in their background beyond the odd Torah/Talmud passage. As David has said, Hebrew has been updated dramatically to add vocabulary for all the things that didn't exist 2000 years ago, like cars, TVs, and cell phones. But someone new to the country may not know any of that new vocabulary. They might only be comfortable in Russia or English or French. Obviously, they can learn modern Hebrew in time but what happens in the meantime? Are road signs, government forms, newspapers, etc. only in Hebrew? If you are of military age, will you have to serve a country that has only been your home for a few weeks in a language that you don't know?

Obviously, these problems get handled; life doesn't come to a standstill over them. I'm just curious to know how they get handled. Does a new immigrant get forms in a language they know? Or help from an interpreter? Does a military-age immigrant get his/her service deferred until they have a certain fluency in Hebrew or maybe get put in a special unit with others that speak the same foreign language, perhaps presided over by a bilingual officer?
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Road signs are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English; many things like ATMs offer options in those languages plus Russian; different groups have newspapers in their own languages though the better integrated immigrants switch to the Hebrew papers (and sites); immigrants who do military service don't have to do it right away and can get intensive Hebrew courses in various contexts, one of them the army itself. It all works out, big melting pot.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for that, David, it's much appreciated! One last question, what about dealing with government? Are all the forms available only in Hebrew or does the govt provide services in a variety of languages? I'm thinking of things like applications for a driver's license, tax returns, etc.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I moved here 30 years ago, and if I recall right, the forms at that time were all in Hebrew. I'm pretty sure that's still the case with govt. forms.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
THANK YOU for such a positive story & outlook in a somewhat dreary world!! I have never had the pleasure of visiting Israel, so my questions are ones of admitted ignorance. How can (what on the map, appears to be a small country) take in a never ending stream of immigrants, (no matter the right intentions)? Won't Tel Aviv become the next Tokyo with tiny living spaces & astronomical rents? Will Israel become the next Japan & have to import most of it's food due to a land shortage? Just curious.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, rents in Tel Aviv are already astronomical. The Tel Aviv area is already pretty rcrowded but there is still a lot of unused space particularly in the desert (Negev) to the south and the Galilee to the north. No problem with a serious land shortage and definitely no food shortage or anything close to it, the economy is doing well.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was delighted by your post, but even more so by your responses to your commenters.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks so much for reporting from the ONLY foreign country I can actually care about. I loved every single minute of my brief visits in the 90's and would take my family back with me in a heartbeat if I had the chance. I felt more at home there than I do in many places in the US - and I'm not even Jewish.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's where the ethos of the Bible Belt meets the ethos of Silicon Valley in the climate of California, all with a Jewish accent. Plus, great falafel.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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