Isaac Herzog, head of the Jewish Agency has, in recent days, has been very vocal in advancing the need for Jews around the world to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel).
Just in the last few weeks, two articles appeared, one in the Israeli English newspaper, Jerusalem Post and one in the Hebrew newspaper, Israel Hayom, both outlining strong reasons why Jews should leave their countries of birth, where ominous events are taking place, in favor of Israel, the safer and more secure choice. In fact, Herzog has a plan to further Aliyah efforts over the course of the next 10 years.
He says that this is a unique and historical opportunity in which Jews should take advantage, given the present challenges that are being faced by them. Thus, he aspires to see a quarter of a million Jews arrive at Israel’s shores within the next 3-5 years.
Citing the absence of no governmental plan to incorporate these new immigrants into Israeli society as well as the job market, Herzog opines that this could be a tremendously lost opportunity which could end in tragedy. Recognizing the difficulty of this massive challenge, on the one hand, he also understands what a great tool such an event could mean to Israel’s present social and economic crisis. Israeli history has shown that each great wave of immigration has brought with it much prosperity and social advantage to the country.
Herzog further relates that the COVID pandemic has seriously affected the Jewish community worldwide on many levels and that those communities have paid a steep price both in terms of their life expectancy as well as the quality of their lives. One haunting memory for him remains the Jewish community of Rome and their outcries for help around the period of the Holocaust. This causes him to ponder, all the more, about how he can help today’s Jewish community as things begin to deteriorate. Traditionally, these diaspora Jewish communities have come to the aid of Israel over the last 72 years, especially during times of great concern for the nascent country, so he believes that it is now Israel’s turn to come to the rescue of diaspora Jews and do all we can to help them during this vulnerable period in history when many of them are considering a move to their ancestral homeland.
Herzog claims that while many of these communities are strong and organized, they are also beginning to show signs of cracks.
However, in his great enthusiasm, Herzog’s noble intentions and prediction of massive Aliyah, within the next three to five years, may be seriously hampered by the present problematic immigration policies of the Ministry of Interior.
For Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel, they must present a letter from a rabbi stating that they are active members of their local Jewish communities and observe the religion as it is defined within the rabbinical viewpoint. Short of such a letter, a comprehensive investigative search will be undertaken, and any perceived discrepancies will likely be brought to light. Those could include intermarriage, the adoption of another religious viewpoint, civil marriage of the candidate as opposed to a religious ceremony and a host of other such personal choices.
In 21st century America, the Jewish community is more diversified than ever before, and the vast majority of North American Jews most likely fall into the category of that diversity with many being disconnected from their faith, heritage and ancestral homeland.
Yet, while this may be their reality, it, nonetheless, does not diminish their Jewish blood, be it through their parents or grandparents. However, without approval from Israel’s Ministry of Interior, they will not be guaranteed entrance to the place which Isaac Herzog sees as their best option.
Right now, there are individuals already in Israel who remain in a state of limbo, having waited years to be approved for citizenship, because the Ministry of Interior has picked up on what they define as inconsistencies to their Jewish claim. In a number of cases, these individuals have been discovered to be Messianic Jews, those who believe that Yeshua of Nazareth was the promised Messiah in accordance with the scriptures. Some are simply related to Messianic Jewish family members, and that association has cast suspicion upon them and rendered them ineligible for automatic status. Consequently, they are forced to conduct a lengthy legal battle in order to obtain what, by birth, is rightly their inheritance as Jews!
Absurd as all this appears, the Jewish Agency must realistically recognize the plight of both Messianic Jews, atheistic Jews or Jews who have opted for other life choices and accommodate their decision to immigrate to Israel if that is the direction they so choose. Short of that, Herzog’s prediction that this could all end in great tragedy may not be blown out of proportion at all. World Jewry and its agencies must get on the same page now.