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Go HOME

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Yonatan Chaim Sayag, from Silver Spring, Maryland, reached out to OHA a few months ago asking how he could best volunteer his time and talent, and has since taken on an active role in the organization. During Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf’s visit to the states two weeks ago, Yonatan Chaim was able to meet with the Rabbi in person for the first time. This article was inspired by their meeting. Yonatan Chaim is excited to return HOME and will, Be”H, be moving to Eretz Yisrael next month.


American Torah Jewry has seen a miraculous blossoming in the last 70 years: communities, yeshivos, kollelim, and chesed organizations have all grown exponentially.


Those who invested their time, money, and energy into American Torah communities in the past few decades have seen the fruit of their labor many times over.


In light of such success, it is hard to be open to hear a different message. A message that the tides are turning.


What message are we hearing today?

Chazal teach us that Hashem speaks to us through yissurim.

המאירי על ברכות דף ה.

״כי אין אדם אשר לא יחטא, כי מחומר קורץ, אם במעשה הקל ואם בדיבור או במחשבות אם להתרשלו להמנעו מעשות המוטל עליו, אם בהתרשלו למחות במי שיש בידו למחות, מחסדי ה׳ ואהבתו יגדיל עונשו עד יביאה לתלות הדבר בחטא מחטאיו ולפשפש במעשיו.״

The Meiri explains that when Hashem wants someone to change course, He will start by ‘waking them up’ gently. Minor yissurim may come upon a person as an opportunity for the person to realize that Hashem is asking him/her to change. If the person is not able to listen closely and hear the message, Hashem will ‘raise the volume’ and send yissurim that are a little more disturbing. This continues until the person is open to the message and willing to change.

In America today, Hashem is beginning to ‘raise the volume.’

And as we know: הרבה שלוחים למקום.

The Anti-Defamation League 2021 Report:

New York, NY/ April 26, 2022 … Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34% increase year over year.

ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, issued today, found that antisemitic incidents reached a high watermark across virtually every category.…When it comes to antisemitic activity in America, you cannot point to any single ideology or belief system, and in many cases, we simply don’t know the motivation,” said [CEO of ADL, Jonathan] Greenblatt. “But we do know that Jews are experiencing more antisemitic incidents than we have in this country in at least 40 years . . . ”


In September 2022, New York state passed regulation on education that allows for intervention by the state in Yeshiva education. In response to the proposed regulations, Agudas Yisrael came out with an official statement:

“ These draft regulations can give unprecedented authority over yeshivos to the local public-school districts, and the curricular requirements can present a serious challenge to the ability of our yeshivos to be mechanech our children according to their mesorah.”


A story that brings to life the message being heard across America happened last week in Flatbush:

On September 19, 2022, four Yeshiva High School students were shocked as a car pulled up beside them and drew what appeared to be a gun. The driver and passenger threatened the students and told them "Go home!" The group frightfully ran to the Yeshiva, which was a block away. (Reported in Hamodia, 9/20/22)

Go home! . . . Go HOME!

Crossroads


We have a decision before us today.


We can ignore the messages and write them off. We can bury our heads in our very busy day-to-day lives, and when we can’t ignore the issue anymore we can point and blame this political party and that socioeconomic trend…


OR


We can hear the message and accept the calling. Hashem does not expect us to board the next flight to Eretz Yisrael, but he is asking American Jewry to start considering how we are getting there. Individual families and whole communities are being asked to research and plan options.


Even with thorough research we may not realistically see a way in the next few years to get to Eretz Yisrael. However, if we have the goal on the forefront of our minds, Hashem will see we hear the message, we are working on it, we are on the way….


Operation Home Again’s Approach

When it was mentioned to Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf, the founder of Operation Home Again, that families were feeling the pressure and considering Aliyah, he sighed. When asked for an explanation, he explained, “There is no question that we are exceptionally fortunate to live in a time when if, Gd- forbid, Jews need to flee the Diaspora, there exists a country that stands ready to assist and welcome Jews home. At the same time, there is something not quite right with looking at Eretz Yisrael as an insurance policy as opposed to what it truly is: THE only true home we will ever have, and the only place that fully ensures a spiritually complete life for the Jewish people and for every individual Jew. Our vision and goal is for families to feel such a pull to return HOME, such a longing for Eretz Yisrael, that they return as a natural expression of their longing to be in the Land of Israel. Operation Home Again’s goal is to create a movement of driven, self-motivated, and self-organizing communities who yearn to settle in Eretz Yisrael.”


So where does that leave us?


Today, the question is not will American frum Jews move to Eretz Yisrael. The question is, when they move, will they be returning out of ahava (love) or out of yirah (fear)?


Rabbi Apisdorf has faith that the Jewish people will rise to the challenge,


“I fully believe that in the very near future we will see more and more—not just individuals and families—but communities that express their desire for the fullest, richest Jewish life imaginable in a surge of returning to our soul’s natural, collective Home: The Land of Israel.”


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