Entering into the Jewish covenant and being deemed eligible for Aliyah in the sense of living in Israel as a full citizen of the state, is related to a specific category of people. In this regard, there is a set criteria of rules that apply. However, in a broader sense the process of Aliyah is not limited to Jews, as defined by rabbinical courts. Indeed, the lofty notion of raising one’s stature within this world has a universal connotation. It therefore follows that strengthening one’s ties with the Jewish State of Israel is by itself an act of Aliyah, based on the biblical principle of receiving a blessing for offering such support.
The issue is then raised as to who is eligible and who is not eligible for both categories -either those who are presently accepted as full Jews for the purpose of making Aliyah to live in Israel as citizens – and those who are not presently eligible, but feel a strong desire to be a part of the Jewish homeland. This latter category can include a wide range of Jewish denominations such as reform movements with a wide following, but without sanctification from those in authority in Israel to recognize their status within the first category of eligibility.
It is not within the scope of this article to enter into the controversy surrounding ‘who is a Jew’ for the purpose of clarifying this issue. While, it is recognized that many well meaning individuals are often left stranded waiting for their own conversion or Jewish status to be clarified, it should be delicately noted that they have a right to continue their own personal interest to strengthen ties with Israel. The minefield can be detected through natural signs of bitterness as disappointment sets in. However, once again without touching on the thorny issue of one’s entitlement to live in Israel, the question can be raised as to alternative routes of connecting with the Jewish state, perhaps even while such individual cases continue to be assessed?
Other categories would of course include our gentile friends who are not in the midst of self-recognition issues. This can be extended across the board to include lesser known but still important groups such as Muslims for Zionism, the growing Bnei Noah movement, and many branches of Christianity that don’t adhere to missionary activities which can greatly upset many Jews living in Israel.
Therefore, the Aliyah Community should be honored to include amongst its midst genuine supporters of Israel, who do not subscribe to having ulterior motives for their actions. Considering the multitude of political action groups or anti-religious elements wishing to express their dissatisfaction with certain sectors of the Israeli public, it is indeed refreshing to receive support from those with an agenda not aimed at further disunity!
Therefore we return to the the question of ways in which this support can manifest itself? Following our introduction about who is eligible for Aliyah, it should be stressed that this new question now concerns everyone that wishes to strengthen ties with Israel, regardless of eligibility issues.
For clarity we shall break this down into two main components. Firstly, those who can support Israel from outside the country, and secondly those able to come here.
In the first component we can include a range of activities that will greatly help our nation. One such activity is simply showing public support when it is needed. An example of this could be signing petitions, attending demonstrations in favor of Israel, joining support groups…every little bit helps.
Another level of support is concerned with financial matters. This can take anything from the simple form of generous donations to your favorite Israeli charity, to investing in business deals that can benefit the Israeli economy. More often than not, such investment opportunities can be greatly rewarding to the discerning investor himself!
The second component concerns actually being in Israel. One simple level is visiting the country as a tourist. Perhaps you already have done, in which case you could share your experiences and encourage others to come?
Within this second component we can include coming to Israel for an extended period of time. This can obviously include study programs.
Pilot trips to Israel for the purpose of preparing for an eventual move here, is also a popular move. Which brings us full circle to the earlier category of coming to Israel to live. We would encourage everyone eligible for that step to actually do so!
Each of the above categories and components can greatly contribute towards strengthening ties with Israel. We hope that all concerned can rise above their own personal challenges and take heart that Aliyah means ‘going up’ and that there are several ways of doing just that. The Aliyah Community should grow to become a large movement, one that is sensitive and caring towards each other. In particular, each member of our community should be proud of their own unique way of strengthening ties with Israel.