THE GREAT CALL
To All Diaspora Leaders
We, the undersigned:
Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, former Prisoner of Zion; Rabbi Shalom Gold, Co-Founder, Union of Rabbis for Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael”; Rabbi David Samson, YTA Torah Academy High Schools; Meir Indor, Founder of Sarel, Volunteers for Israel; Tzvi Fishman, first U.S. Director of Sarel; Era Rappaport, Mitzvah Elef Program; Rabbi Yaacov Sternberg, Eretz Yisrael Movement; Yehuda Etzion, activist for Aliyah and Klita from Ethiopia; Rabbi Yaacov Novik, Mateh Maamatz; Rabbi Avraham Blass, Yerushalmi Institute; Rabbanit Libby Kahane; Yehuda HaKohen, Alternate Action Movement; Batya Spiegelman Medad, Journalist; Joshua Wander, Bring Them Home Movement. David Bannister, Aliyah INN Radio (Partial list)…
Appeal to all Diaspora Rabbis, Directors of Major Jewish Organizations, and Editors of Jewish newspapers…
On June 21, the World Health Organization issued a warning regarding the likelihood of a second wave of Coronavirus: “The world is in a new a dangerous phase. The virus is still spreading fast, it is still deadly and most people are still susceptible. We call on all countries and all people to exercise extreme vigilance.”
Until this week, medical experts around the world warned that a second wave was likely to begin by late autumn and to continue throughout the winter of 2021. Now it seems that the second wave will appear much sooner. At the moment, El Al plans to resume regular flights at the end of July, but a second wave could mean that the airline will remain on the ground. If that happens, the window of opportunity for Diaspora Jews to make Aliyah will be seriously threatened. While the Jewish Agency has reported that double the number of people as usual have opened Aliyah folders in the past three Corona-filled months, the numbers are still small. While Nefesh B’Nefesh has reserved seats for new olim on 14 El-Al flights this summer, the current number of monthly new immigrants is lower than usual, with the majority coming from Russia, and only 6% from America. With a new outburst of the COVID-19 epidemic, even if special emergency flights are continued in order bring new Jewish immigrants to the Promised Land, the number of new arrivals could be severely diminished until an effective vaccination is found.
In addition, if another worldwide lockdown is required, with the increased unemployment and economic chaos that will follow throughout the Diaspora, rioting is also likely to become even more widespread and violent. The forecast, to say the least, does not look optimistic for the scattered and vulnerable Jewish communities around the globe who won’t have Tzahal to defend them.
Therefore, a representative group of Rabbis in Israel and Aliyah activists, past and present, sign on this letter, urging all Rabbis and educators in the Diaspora, all heads of major Jewish organizations, and all editors of Jewish newspapers, to stridently call upon your congregants, membership, and readers, to seize the moment and to rise up and embrace the unsurpassed mitzvah of Yishuv HaAretz, a mitzvah equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah combined (Sifre, Ekev, 11:18), by taking the immediate steps necessary to make Aliyah to our eternally Cherished Land, upon which the eyes of Hashem gaze from the beginning of the year to the end.
Furthermore, we urge all synagogue communities, Jewish Federations, major Jewish organizations, and Jewish philanthropists to establish a large Aliyah Fund in order to aid and encourage the families and individuals coming on Aliyah from your communities. We, whose families have made Aliyah, understand the difficulties, and also the incomparable joy of Jewish Life in the Holy Land. In the faith-filled words of Calev ben Yefunne, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
For several weeks, Aliyah activists including Joshua Wander and Yehudis Schamroth of the Bring Them Home Movement; Yossi Baumol of Yeshivat Makor Haim; Rabbi Avi Berman, Director of the OU Israel Center, and journalists Sivan Rahav-Meir, Tzvi Fishman, and others, have been bombarding Israel Government offices with phone calls and emails to make sure government agencies get themselves geared up for the waves of Aliyah that everyone hopes will be overriding the waves of Corona. Facebook groups such as Emergency Aliyah Now, Aliyah Community, and The Klutter Koach, have been created to assist new olim on their voyage. The Israel Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, have established an Emergency Aliyah Hotline in the United States: 1-800-835-0430. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For Israeli citizens seeking to return home, the number is 972-3-973-333, or contact, Ela Saban at: email@example.com. The number of Nefesh b Nefesh is 1-888-4-ALIYAH; firstname.lastname@example.org. For other global locations and languages: http://archive.jewishagency.org/Global_Center.
The Minister of Aliya and Absorption has urgently instructed all relevant officials regarding U.S. Aliyah to streamline the digital registration process while reducing bureaucracy and improving processing for Jewish people seeking to make Aliyah. The relevant authorities are setting up more effective absorption programs in Israel. We urge you all to heed the Heavenly call. It is time to come home!