Aug 24, 2009

A New Manifesto

A Guest Post by Tamar Weissman

As long as I live, I will talk about aliya – even as the hope for mass aliya from the West is today like the hope of Zionists of the previous century for a state.Like ancient Cato who held on to one idea, I too will not forsake the call to aliya.

If we should fail, this generation will be placed on trial by Jewish history and there will be no mercy in the judgment.
Uri Gordon, Six Zionist Essays, 1987

We are a new generation with a need for a new manifesto. The catalyst driving the early Zionist visionaries is thankfully not present in our contemporary history. They were distressed by the dismal Jewish condition present by 19th century Europe, whether it was the impossibility of total assimilation into the western host country, no matter the efforts expended towards that goal, or the impoverishment and danger suffered by the Jews of Russia.

These visionaries pushed on through the implausibility of their dream; they bore the incessant mockery and dismissal of their one simple idea: the reconstitution of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. They persevered, they wrote, they fought and they triumphed. The State of Israel is strong and vibrant. G-d graces His People in the land that He chose for them.

Our generation has no less of a noble calling.

We stand now at the cusp of one of the most consequential moments in our history, where the majority of the Jewish People are living in Eretz Yisrael. Our mission is to realize the potential granted to this moment in history, and this moment alone: to ingather all of the Jewish nation into its homeland.

We are no longer galvanized towards aliya by oppression or fear. The last bastion of the Diaspora, the United States, must answer a different clarion call: that of kibbutz galuyot. The Jew must no longer be a citizen of the world. He must join the swell of his People in Israel to fully realize his capacity as a member of his People. In the Diaspora, he is a Jew; in his homeland, he is a part of Am Yisrael.

The American Jew who yearns to fully realize his Jewishness, who deeply desires to merge in solidarity with his brothers and sisters, can do so only in Israel. Here the superficial identities of Moroccan Jew or Argentinian Jew or British Jew fall away as we converge together in the only meaningful way: as the Jews of Israel. Cast off your American Jewish circumstance and join your destiny with that of your people.

We call on the rabbinic and lay leadership in America to embrace this vision, to not impede our historic opportunity to bring about Kibbutz Galuyot and the full realization of Am Yisrael in its land, to encourage their communities and congregations to accept practical Zionism as the only valid expression of full commitment to Am Yisrael, and to sense the urgency of the present moment. You must begin the process of dismantling the substantial infrastructure that binds Jews to the Diaspora.

We call especially on young Jews, those whose roots are not yet sunk deeply enough into the seduction of comfortable foreign soil, to remember that the idealism of a hundred years ago built a country, and that idealism need not be borne out of desperation at one’s circumstances but can emerge from the yearning to take part in the enterprise of your people in your land. We call on you to join us here, to raise your children as part of Am Yisrael and realize the richness of a life amongst your brethren in Eretz Yisrael.

We call on you to stop excusing yourself from our common destiny.

Your choice is to remain in the Diaspora or to take an active part in Kibbutz Galuyot.

Join with the rest of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. It is our time. This is our task.


  1. "We stand now at the cusp of one of the most consequential moments in our history, where the majority of the Jewish People are living in Eretz Yisrael."

    ...where the majority of the Jewish People are living IN A JEWISH STATE in Eretz Yisrael.

    That is the really amazing thing, which has not happened in over 2700 years.

  2. I'm going to add that, thank you Shlomo.
    A wise friend commented that the tone should be an "enobling one: to build the future, to live up to this challenge, to be the history itself." Is the current tone too negative?

  3. This is a beautiful piece and quite energizing.

    I would just take issue with one point.

    Tamar said, "where the majority of the Jewish People are living in Eretz Yisrael".

    I don't believe this is true yet. We are at the cusp of having the largest population of Jews, but that's different than having a majority of Jews.

    This my seem nit-picky, but when you're writing important thoughts I think it's important that they be accurate.

  4. Tamar, can I ask you what is the point? Organizations that have preached Aliya from the West get nowhere.
    Nefesh BNefesh refrains from that kind of rhetoric and have been considerably more successful.

  5. I think the point is simple, Mul Ha'eynayim. While NBN has done a great job promoting aliyah from the West, they have only begun to scratch the surface. How many Jews from the USA made aliyah last year? A few thousand? How many Jews live in the US?

    One cannot say enough good things about NBN. I know in the 10 years or so since we made aliyah, people definitely look at aliyah quite differently. When we made aliyah, people thought we were crazy. Nowadays, shuls honor the new olim before they leave. I'm certain NBN has much to do with that.

    I think Tamar's point is that what's still missing from this modern aliyah mini-wave is a fundamental grassroots intellectual uprising that was evident in the other great aliyah waves. I would venture to guess that most American Jews (including, and especially Orthodox Jews) don't lead very ideologically inspired lives. It's time to change that.

    I hope that Tamar's essay inspires others to write and discuss these ideas until we can truly have another mass aliyah wave.

  6. There has nver been an ideologically inpired mass-aliya, and posting theings like this will not change that.

  7. Yo Mul:

    That doesn't mean that folks like Tamar shouldn't give it a shot. A majority of the Jews don't keep Kosher or Shabbat, but it is still our duty to try to be "Mekarev" them!

  8. The reality of American Jewish life is pretty much summed up by the amazing statistic that 80% of them voted for President Obama.

    The vast majority of American Jews are not religious and those at best do not care about Israel and at worse are hostile to it because of their left leaning beliefs. They would never consider making aliya.

    As for the orthodox most also do not think of aliya as an option.

    But things are about to change. Just like the Jews of Europe and the Levant made mass aliya out of necessity I see the same happening to American Jews. Most do not see it yet but disaster awaits them. The Democratic party Jews are wedded to is really a socialist tool and the American people have finally realized this. They do not like it.

    When the average American finally realizes what Jewish voters and the Jewish establishment like the Pritzkers, Hollywood, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Jews in Wall Street, George Soros, have done to them they will turn against Jews and aliya will be more attractive to American Jews.


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