Encouraging Aliya – insensitive?

The videos produced by the Absorption Department encouraging Israelis in North America to return to Israel, ignited a controversy. Within a few days the Prime Minister himself ordered the campaign to be cancelled. 

Yet in the meantime, an interesting and important dialogue had begun to open up. Were the commercials really so offensive? Or were they mainly touching on a subject that itself is terribly sensitive yet crucial: What is the value of Jewish life in Israel as compared to the Diaspora? Indeed, how do we define a valuable Jewish life?

Over the next few days we shall be publishing short responses, so as to encourage the beginning of a meaningful dialogue.

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona, St. Louis


One Comment

The recent videos issued by the Misrad HaKlitah got me thinking anew about the word Klitah. Of course, when we first contemplate the word, we instinctively focus on the absorption and acclimation of new immigrants from the Diaspora; a most challenging job that, without question, has been done admirably by the State of Israel…

But maybe – just maybe – these ads and the furor they have ignited provide us with a unique opportunity to re-imagine what a Misrad HaKlitah might be as we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century; a new era with a new ethos…

Maybe – just maybe – we need to assign a heretofore unexplored raison d’être to this governmental body. The task not of absorption of either new or returning immigrants, but rather an agency focused on another possible definition of the word Klitah: “reciprocal understanding and comprehension” between Jews MeKtzot Kol Tevel (from the four corners of the universe)… To Full Post

Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, President of Hebrew College


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From my perspective, the “Come Home” videos suggest a profound indictment of Jewish education and identity formation in Israeli secular culture. To Full Post

Ruth Calderon, Executive Director of Alma College


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These are poor commercials in my opinion.

The fact that they will “always remain Israeli” is true, and an interesting cultural truth. The next stage – help them to return home – is not essential, paternalistic, and blind to the interesting new cultural developments taking place in Israeli communities abroad. To Full Post

Amy Skopp Cooper, Director, Camp Ramah Nyack


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Dear Israel:

Sorry to say it but you reacted to our American Jewish anger by wimping out. Yes- you portrayed us as ignorant and foolish…you suggested that we have no ties to our homeland and that our children are growing up in a desert waste land. No, it was not very nice…it was in fact rather insensitive. To Full Post

Eran Shayshon, Reut Institute


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The controversial set of commercials was pointless and irresponsible, but they were not aimed at “negating the Diaspora”. In fact, an increasing number of Israelis today acknowledge that a strong and vibrant Diaspora is a clear imperative for Israel and Zionism. To Full Post

Prof. Steven M. Cohen, Berman Jewish Policy Archive


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The imbroglio over these videos should not obscure some essential truths.

One is that massive numbers of American Jewish people and families are indeed being lost to the Jewish People, both through cultural challenges and to the downstream impact of intermarriage, as it seems that less than 10% of the grandchildren of marriages between Jews and non-Jews identify as Jews.

Second, the Israeli Jewish public is convinced that high levels of assimilation characterize American Jewry.

Third, that perception is a matter of national pride among Israelis, one rooted very deeply in the classic Zionist ideology that undergird the Yishuv and then the State in its early days. To Full Post

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