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Ambassador Oren on the History of Aliyah
“Aliyah,” or immigration to Israel, “is the essence of Zionism and the way the Jewish people are fulfilling their covenant with God.” With this statement, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren opened the first of a four-part live Zoom video conference series on the importance of aliyah by Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) affiliate Nefesh B’Nefesh.
With a long and illustrious diplomatic career in the Israeli foreign service, Ambassador Oren, who made aliyah 42 years ago, gave a brief overview of the 19th and 20th-century history of Jewish immigration and their quest to re-establish an independent state in their ancestral homeland. Ambassador Oren explained that although the great Jewish Diaspora lasting 2,000 years was tough, Jews still immigrated to the land of Israel.
As the notions of nationalism and Zionism began to gain steam in the early 20th century, so too did violent pogroms against Jews in Russia and elsewhere throughout Europe, sparking the first “waves” of aliyah and settling the land. Wave after wave of persecuted Jews arrived, especially as Germany’s Nazi regime came to power, leading to the British authorities in Mandatory Palestine to issue immigration restrictions in the form of the White Paper. By 1948, the Jewish population in Palestine stood at 600,000, and after the establishment of the State of Israel, the nascent state’s population grew 10-fold through Aliyah — mainly through the arrival of Jews fleeing Arab and Islamic countries.
Today, Israel is known as the Start-up Nation due to the high number of successful start-ups such as Waze, SodaStream and Wix emanating from the country. “Israel made aliyah successful,” said Amb. Oren, adding, “Aliyah is Israel’s future. It gave Israel the start-ups and entrepreneurship, and this is because of the immigrants.”
Jewish National Fund (JNF) has been an integral part of ensuring the aliyah process continues, and is proud to support the efforts of Nefesh B’Nefesh. To date, over 60,000 Jews have made aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh and are living their dream in the Jewish homeland. “Jewish National Fund is fulfilling a mitzvah by helping others fulfill the mitzvah of making aliyah, and it’s thanks to Jewish National Fund that the land of Israel is revitalized for the people of Israel,” said Amb. Oren.
With everything going on in the world, the U.S., and Israel, JNF-USA is reminding its partners (donors) that they’re cherished members of the organization’s family. In that spirit, the organization is helping the community feel connected, engaged, and inspired, through a new series of on-demand content that complements its number one podcast, IsraelCast. From space exploration to challah baking, there’s something for everyone at jnf.org/ondemand and jnf.org/IsraelCast.