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March 07, 1975 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-03-07

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Aliya Month Displays a Means
For Reaffirming Jewish Identity


Many North American Jews
talk about aliya. But last
year 3,200 Jews in the
United States and Canada
acted. They packed up their
belongings, lifestyles and
memories and moved to Is-
rael. For almost all the deci-
sion came after years of
thinking, re-thinking and
assessing — and, in many
instances, agonizing — the
wisdom or the folly, the ad-
vantages or pitfalls of mak-
ing aliya.
According to Yehoshua_
Yadlin, director of the
North American Aliya Cen-
ter, the reasons for making
aliya range from intensely
personal to ideological, from
a feeling that remaining in
the Diaspora leads to loss of
identity as a Jew to the con-
viction that Israel's security
requires an ongoing influx
of Jews. But for almost all,
he added, making aliya was
the culmination of a devel-
oping consciousness that
tended to fuse the personal
needs with the historical
Aliya is the Hebrew word
for ascent, for "going up to
Zion." But this is only the
beginning of wisdom. It is.
the negation of Diaspora,
the affirmation of Jewish
identity, the forging of a
link in the chain of Jewish
universality, the pride in the
Jewish homeland, the abol-
ishment of alienation, the'
transformation of the Jew
from being a victim of his-
tory to being a participant
in shaping history, the end
of exile.

During an interview at
the Israel Aliya Center at
515 Park Avenue, Yadlin,
Aaron Hauptman and Al-
lan Pakes agreed that

these are the basic compo-
nents in the metabolism of
aliya. Hauptman, an
American who works in
the public relations office
at the Aliya Center, has
been to Israel several
times and hopes to make
aliya. Pakes, from Edmon-
ton, Canada, is an econo-
mist and statistical ana-
lyst who made aliya in
1964, worked in a variety
of jobs including the Min-
istry of Labor, and was
recruited to help in the
Aliya Center here. Yadlin
is a Sabra who was ap-
pointed to his post seven
months ago.
In discussing the nature
of aliya, the three noted
that Pinhas Sapir, chair-
man of the Jewish Agency
and World Zionist Organi-
zation Executives, has de-
fined aliya as "a revolution-
ary act," the alternative to
which is the "self-liquida-
tion" of the Jew through
They also called attention
to Premier Yitzhak Rabin's
recent statement that
"Aliya is the lifeblood of the

Jewish state. The story of
the rebirth and building of
Israel is, in essence, the
story of aliya."
All this, however, it was
pointed out, only poses some
basic questions: Why aren't
more North American Jews
making aliya? What turns
Jews on to aliya? With no
visible signs of imminent so-
cial catastrophes confront-
ing North Ameriean Jews,
what compelling reasons
are there to convince them
that they ought to be "going
up to Zion?"
Is Israel prepared with
jobs, housing, and absorp-
tive capacities for olim? And
what is the Aliya Center in
New York and similar cen-
ters elsewhere in North
America doing to get out the
message to Jewish commu
"By and large," Yadlin
observed, "people who
make aliya are motivated
by a positive drive. They
are motivated by the pull
of a certain concept that is
meaningful in their indi
vidual lives. They view
aliya as moving to free-
dom, rather than escaping
danger, the freedom of
being a Jew in a Jewish
nation." He asserted that
those involved in promot-
ing aliya do not base their
activities on any assump-
tion that there is some-
thing wrong with the so-
cial system in this country
or in Canada. "It's none of
our business what the so-
cial system is or is not,"
Yadlin said. "We do not
pass value judgments on
this. If an individual
makes aliya his choice
based on his evaluation of
the system, that's his op-
Hauptman noted that for
many Jews, going to Israel
is not at this time a con-
scious goal. "In fact," he
said, "on a conscious level
they may not even want to
go because they see no rea-
son within the context of
their lives to leave their
jobs, lifestyles and milieu.
"This is especially true for
those Jews who are involved
in Jewish organizational
activities or live in large ci-
ties. They don't feel iso-
lated, as do Jews in small
communities. They feel
they're contributing to Jew-
ish identity and continuity,
and feel secure in a commu-
nity of friends, and co-work-
But, Pakes noted, in time,
when a deeper conscious-
ness begins to emerge, "it
starts, usually, with an
uneasy feeling that some-
thing is missing in their
lives, a vacuum, a perception
that not all their life spark
plugs are firing. They don't
translate this into the need
for aliya, not immediately,
perhaps not for a long time.
But the gears have begun to
shift. It is only a matter of
time, education, and ongo-

ing consciousness raising community, so that what I
that makes them realize do will be felt. We are still
that where they're at is not talking about establishing a
where they ought to be to society. Israel still exudes
the spirit of the pioneers."
find fulfillment."
Yadlin focused on the
Pakes noted that one of
the strongest currents car- same issue. "Israeli society
rying Jews to the shoreline is a young society still in its
of aliya is the realization formative stage. This gives
that in Israel "you're liv- many individuals a feeling
ing as a majority in a ma- of forward motion and a
jority culture, and the cul- chance to pursue profes-
ture is ours, Jewish, not sional careers that will have
someone else's culture. a bearing on the course this
It's identity. It comes society will take. Aliya
down to the fact that I means participating in a
want my children to be total Jewish experience." He
raised as Jews and feel riffled through a stack of
proud that they are Jews." letters from former Ameri-
Hauptman added: "Jews cans now living in Israel and
have always been outsiders. held up two of them. "These
For the first time in 2,000 are just examples of what I
years a Jew in Israel can be mean," he said.
One was a letter from
a part of the majority cul-
ture, not through assimila- Michael Rosenberg, 25, for-
tion as in the Diaspora but merly from Bayonne, N.J.
through the assertion and who studied at Johns Hop-
development of Jewishness, kins University and has a
to live as he wants to live BA in social sciences. "I
without being programmed made aliya, he wrote, "to
by another culture, to live as achieve personal liberation
a human Jew and not have and to Participate in the
to choose between being a national liberation of the
`Jew' or being a diffused Jewish people."
The other letter was from
But, he noted, there may Joseph Schwartz, 43, for-
even be more practical, per- merly from Chicago, who
sonal, even selfish reasons wrote: "My aliya was moti-
for makingaliya. "Let's say vated by the need to partici-
he's got a job in America pate more actively in the
and is good at it. Where does future of the Jewish state,
he go from here, what gives
for the need to live a more
him a sense of commitment? complete life, to be part of a
Most people are not satis-
majority culture, and to
participate in shaping my
fied with their jobs because
there is no fulfillment for own history."
But for many Jews- who
them. Sure, they can make a
few more dollars for some are contemplating aliya,
and even for some who
large firm, they can apply
have taken the step aliya
their talents which, in the
final analysis, helps the evokes visions of bureauc-
racy, delays, red tape,
firm, they might get a raise.
frustrations and disap-
But what are they contrib-
uting in an overall sense?"
pointments about the kind
But how does this differ° of jobs and housing avail-
able to the newcomer.
in Israel? "A higher ideal is
involved," Hauptman as- Hauptman didn't deny
serted. "Israel is special. In
this, nor the fact that too
America or elsewhere I am
many Israeli officials in-
just part of the general
volved in absorption are
work force, undifferentiated
insensitive and indifferent
in commitment and undis- to problems encountered
tinguished in terms of my
by newcomers. Neverthe-
contributions. In Israel
less, he noted that fre-
there is a chance for chang-
quently North American
olim come to Israel with
ing things. I can contribute
expectations that Israel
to help the country. Many of
the industries are still
should provide them with
young, still growing and
conditions that are com-
parable to those they had.
change is still the essence of
"There is the expecta-
Israeli reality. There is a
tion," he said, "that when I
focus, a framework and a
meaning to my activities."
come to Israel all I have to
say is 'Here I am. Make me
Pakes said he couldn't
agree more. "Coming to
an offer I can't refuse.' But
this. same person,1 who de-
Israel means coming to a
country that is still in flux,
cides to leave New York and
still developing, still
goes to another city in this
youthful at the age of 26.
country doesn't make that
same demand, he doesn't ex-
"In the U.S. or Canada I
pect the city in which he's
can't feel this anymore.
just arrived to provide him
What I do here may be good
with the amenities he was
for my family, for my boss,
but not necessarily for so-
used to back home. Why,
then, do Americans, who
ciety. What I do in Israel
are supposedly self-reliant,
will have an effect in my
demand that Israel provide
particular field, in my par-
them with all the com-
ticula.r neighborhood. It's
total involvement. Working
in Israel with a population
conceded that "there are a
base of three million means
lot of hardships in Israeli
there is a greater feeling of

life. We realize this and
know that someone coming
from a different back-
ground, not conversant with
the language or culture
needs a helping hand in or-
der to integrate." In line
with this, he said that offi-
cials at the Aliya Center
"pledge to every family in-
terested in aliya that we
will help them to integrate,
investigate job opportuni-
ties for them, assist in set-
ting them up in business
and housing. We also pledge
relocation costs to Israel
and the cost of training
programs to help them inte-
As for bureaucratic foul-
ups, he noted that Sapir re-
cently initiated the concen-
tration of all-purpose immi-
grant absorption centers to
help olim get processed,
housed, employed and medi-
cally insured. The first such

absorption processing cen-
ter is already functioning in
Natanya and similar cen
ters are due to open in Je-
rusalem, Ashkelon, Tel Aviv
and Haifa.
Aliya Month, launched
last week by the Israel.,
Aliya Center of North: .
America which is spore:
sored by the WZC
seek to convey in
forms the meaning ose-
being part of the total
Jewish experience which
is provided in the state of
"Aliya Month," Yadlin
noted, "in a way is a cam-
paign to turn the attend°
of Jews to the validity o
considering this option."
Basically, he said, Rabin
expressed the essence of,
aliya when he stated that it
was never an easy act but if
is the ultimate challenge.

Yiddish Actress Immigrates,

NEW YORK — Ida Ka-
minska, the grande dame of
the Yiddish Theatre and in-
ternational actress will be
immigrating to Israel from
the U.S. this week. Settling
there with her actor-hus-
band, Meir Melman, they
will be joining the newly
formed Yiddish Theatre in
Tel Aviv. Both Ida Kamin,
ska and her husband left
Poland in. late 1968 during
the anti-Jewish campaign.
Miss Kaminska, star of
the Academy award win-
ning, "Shop on Main
Street," was the founder
and star of the Jewish State
Theatre in Poland, estab-
lished in 1946.
She and her company
have toured North and
South America and Israel.
Following the Six-Day War
in 1967, many of Poland's
Jews left the country caus-
ing a sharp decline in the
Yiddish Theatre.
The daughter of Esther
and Abraham Kaminsky,
leading Polish Yiddish
actors, Ida Kaminska has
been part of the Yiddish
stage since the age of four.
When the Nazis ap-
proached Warsaw in 1939

she and her family fled t
Lvov, in Soviet occupied
Poland, only to leave once
again in 1941 for Frunze,-.
located in Soviet Central
Asia. It was in 1946 that
she and her family re-
turned to Poland and es
tablished the Jewish State
Theatre under government
When asked about her
motivations for going to Is-
rael she said, "I am going to
Israel simply because I
want to live among my peo-


Economic Crunch Hits Jewish Studie*
In Programs Throughout the U.S.

— Current economic prob-
lems are taking their toll of
Jewish _education programs
throughout the United
States, according to Isaac
Toubin, executive vice presi--
dent of the American Asso-
ciation for Jewish Educa- _
Speaking at a meeting of
the Jewish education com-
mittee of the Federation of
Jewish Agencies of Greater

Philadelphia, he said the sit-
uation "may precipitate
new approach to how the
problems within Jewish ed-
ucation are to be met."
He reported that enroll-
ment in weekday Hebrew
and Sunday schools wa
declining drastically, that
the Jewish day school popu-
lation had become static and
that secondary school en-
rollment was on the "tai
end" of an uphill swing.

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