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The first aliyah

צילום: פלאש90

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Actually, Avraham Avinu was the first oleh chadash (new immigrant) to the Land of Israel. This week, we recognize this fact officially - Avraham's "aliyah day" - in parashat Lech Lecha. Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin writes that all the challenges Avraham overcame - all the tests he passed - have given us strength throughout the generations to overcome those same challenges and pass those same tests. So, too, regarding aliyah: "Every person's sudden awakening to get up and make aliyah to the Holy Land has its source in the power of Avraham to meet the challenge of 'Go forth from your land.'"

Ever since that first "Lech-Lecha," millions have continued to follow in the footsteps of Avraham. Among them were Chasidim of the Baal Shem Tov, students of the Vilna Gaon, Jews of Yemen in "Operation on Eagles' Wings," the pioneers before the founding of the State, the Jews of Iraq in "Opertaion Ezra and Nehemiah," immigrants from East and West after the founding of the State, Jews from the former Soviet Union after the fracturing of the Iron Curtain, Jews from Ethiopia in "Operation Moses," Jews from the United States through "Nefesh B'Nefesh," Jews from France, and many others.

This is an unprecedented phenomenon in world history: A people scattered in every direction, to the furthest corners of the earth, stays faithful to a single piece of land, and ultimately returns to it after two thousand years.

Yesterday I spoke with Susan, a friend from America, who is making aliyah in two weeks. It's not easy to leave your land and your father's house, but perhaps the awareness that you are making the same journey as Avraham gives you strength.

You are hereby invited to share your personal aliyah story or that of your family.


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