Awakenings

SunrisePeople say funny things some times. Some times they say strange things. Other times they say nice things. In all of these cases, there is often a deeper meaning to the spoken word, unrealized by the person who spoke it.

Before my departure for my second Ariel Aliyah recruiting tour of the USA and Canada, a representative of Israel’s Ministry of Absorption gave me the following blessing: “Good luck. I hope you will have a Chanukah miracle and that your trip will be a success”. As most of the Aliyah Fairs were to be held on Chanukah the blessing seemed like a nice gesture.

Although the blessing was appreciated, I dismissed it at first as a misunderstanding, both of what Chanukah is and of what American aliyah is all about. Chanukah isn’t some cute little miracle that we light pretty little candles for – it has a meaning and essence all to itself. As for aliyah from the States and Canada – does it really take a miracle for Jews to want to return Home? Does it require some sort of supernatural force to encourage Jews to be true to themselves? Is the phenomenon of North American Aliyah something that can only be explained by employing concepts of divine intervention?

Of all the people who approached the “Ariel Aliyah” booth at the Aliyah Fairs in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Toronto and Los Angeles, none seemed to be spell-bound by some invisible force. Each and every person seemed to be practical – both by nature and in considering the subject at hand. Indeed, those who were closest to their aliyah date had their feet firmly on the ground, armed with plans that were well thought out. From the look of things, the people planning on making aliyah were the most sensible people around.

On second thought, hundreds, if not thousands, of people attended these fairs, working towards their goal of making aliyah. And yet, for each Jew that attended the fairs there are untold numbers of Jews who did not. It was great meeting the Jews who are laying plans towards a healthy future, but where was everyone else?

The miracle of Chanukah is the miracle of the Jewish people rejecting a culture not their own, in favor of their own true identity. Strange kind of miracle – the miracle of being able to be yourself. Perhaps more than strange – it’s sad. How many people in the world really know who they are? How many Jews actually want to live in their Home Land? Maybe, in some ways, the miracle of North American Aliyah is like the miracle of Chanukah. It’s not a far-fetched long-shot supernatural kind of miracle. It’s a more natural, basic one. It’s the miracle of G-d awakening us to ourselves. It’s about us hearing the voice from within, listening to the rhythm of our lives, to who we are and to who we should be.

I guess the world is in such a state that Jews need to be awoken. If we look at the long history of the Jewish People we will note that the ingathering of the exiles really is miraculous. As an historical phenomenon – it’s difficult to imagine something more miraculous. And yet, on the personal level it seems surprising that we need such a miracle to move us along our path in life.

On a positive note, there is an important aspect of this analysis which cannot be overlooked. The messengers through which the miracle of North American Aliyah will continue to grow, the awakening emissaries, are non-other than those down-to-earth, well focused Jews who attended the fairs with the sole purpose of preparing for their aliyah. More than any written word, more than any idea, the actions of those who make aliyah successfully will serve to motivate others to be awakened.

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