The convergence of several things lately including A7 news items are prompting me to once again consider Aliya.
From the pure Yir'a side:
From a mixture of Yir'a and Ahava:
US to Take in 1,350 Palestinian Refugees
(IsraelNN.com) The U.S. agreed Tuesday to accept 1,350 Palestinian refugees from Iraq and resettle them in southern California, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The refugees, who Saddam Hussein took in and used to attack Israeli policies, have been treated miserably by Iraqis since Hussein’s fall in 2003.
“This is politically a real hot potato,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. “America has become a dumping ground for the State Departmnet’s problems – they’re tossing their problems over their head into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or Omaha, Nebraska.
Israeli Economy a Draw for North American Immigrants
by Rachel Abrams
The ideological bottom line may remain the same, but those looking to Aliyah may finally have large financial incentives to cross the ocean.
"For the first time in history, the Israeli economy is looking better than the American economy", says Danny Oberman, executive vice president of operations at Nefesh B'Nefesh. A leading organization which finds and assists Jews wishing to make Aliyah [immigration to Israel], the group has reported an average of 25 new inquiries each day from people looking to begin the application process. "We are seeing an unprecedented level of interest from North America," says Oberman, "and it's not just people who have lost their jobs but people who don't see a serious upside in the near future."
Click here to hear interview with Oberman.
For young singles and couples, the advantages afforded by Israel's current economic edge are especially appealing. The job market is wider for recent university graduates, and families with young children can find more affordable Jewish or college education in Israel than back in the U.S. and Canada. Israeli health insurance, free for between the first six to 12 months for new arrivals and amounting to $50 to $100 a month after that, is also a cheaper option than many health insurance plans in the U.S.
Immigrants also are given a discount on car purchases and are eligible for free education if they are under the age of 27. For those generating income from overseas, no taxes are taken for the first 10 years of residence. These lower costs, combined with an overly burdened and strained American economy, are enticing more North American Jews than ever to emigrate.
In 2008, Nefesh B'Nefesh reported that 3,000 immigrants to Israel were from North America. This year, the organization is expecting upwards of 4,000.
"What we're seeing is…people who had considered Aliyah, people who had visited Israel in the past, people who had a connection, but who stayed in North America because they were doing well; they were comfortable," says Oberman. Now, however, with Israel faring considerably better in the global economic crisis, families are in a better position than before to line up their ideological and fiduciary concerns.
"Anybody who has visited here has seen that the opportunities here, and the ways kids are brought up and the social environment is different than North America. It's a healthy environment… For anyone who's looking for a different set of values, Israel's definitely an option."
From the pure Ahava side:
Flight of 230 North American Immigrants Arrives in Israel
(IsraelNN.com) The first chartered Aliyah flight of 2009 arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Two hundred and thirty-two olim (new immigrants) from the United States and Canada were aboard the flight.
The immigrants are the first of 3,000 olim from North America and the United Kingdom to arrive this summer, on the first of 15 chartered Aliyah flights sponsored by the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization and the Jewish Agency.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver were present to greet the new Israelis.
Flight to Include Gilad Shalit's Namesake
One of the new arrivals was three-year-old Gilad Zuller, who was traveling with parents Yehuda and Aviva and his three older siblings. Gilad was named for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped one week before his birth.
After Gilad Zuller was given his name, Yehuda wrote to Noam Shalit and expressed hope that their two sons would meet in the near future. During Yehuda's next trip to Israel, in which he distributed donations during the Second Lebanon War, Noam Shalit drove to Kiryat Shemona to meet him.
The Zuller family has met with Shalit's parents Noam and Aviva several times since then, in both Israel and New York. The Shalit family planned to greet the Zullers on their arrival in Israel.
The Zuller family will settle in Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.
Olim Include Children, Soldiers, One Cat
Forty percent of the new arrivals are children, the youngest a mere seven weeks old. Tuesday's flight also included 60 singles.
Twenty-two of the new arrivals plan to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces. Others will begin jobs in fields ranging from advertising to photography to medicine.
Seven dogs and one cat were on board the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight, heading for their new home in Israel.
Among the 232 arrivals are those hailing from 19 American states and the Canadian city of Quebec. The immigrants are heading for new homes throughout Israel, from the village of Chispin in the Golan Heights to kibbutzim (cooperative communities) in the south.
See the videos there too. I happened to watch the video live, and I felt like I want to be one of those people too! Persuading people like me was obviously the purpose of publicizing the videos and I'm admittedly one of those who got persuaded, despite the ceremony being 95% secular. (And no, NBN did not pay me to say this.)
Of course, it should happen at the right time. I'm not sure when the right time is - there are some personal obstacles that need to be cleared first.
An additional impetus of Ahava is the upcoming Aliya of my parents BE"H. But more on that in a future post BL"N.
(Other reasons not discussed in this post are Mitzvat Yishuv Ha'aretz and how world events seem to be soon culminating into our Ge'ula, BB"A.)