Israeli emigration to Berlin: It makes sense


The uproar in Israel about the so-called “Milky” affair has two distinct aspects. First, it calls attention to Israel’s current economic situation which has caused both real and perceived problems, especially for young people. The other, and rather darker, issue is that it has resulted in an exodus of young Israelis, a number of whom have decided to move to Berlin.
 
I agree that when young men and women voluntarily choose to leave Israel in search of an easier life abroad it is a serious matter that needs to be addressed by the Israel government. As far as I am concerned, however, the problem is the same, whether the émigré leaves in search of “the American dream” in New York or Los Angeles, or hopes to find an easier life in Berlin. Yet it is only when young Israelis choose to settle in Berlin that, as recently reported in the New York Times, “pundits and politicians” denounce them as “anti-Zionist traitors” who have forgotten the Holocaust and happily “move to where Hitler designed the Final Solution.” 
 
Such accusations are not only unfair but totally ignore the changes that have taken place in Germany, particularly in Berlin, in recent years. No one can ignore, nor should ever forget the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. Since those dark days, three 
generations have been born. From my own observations, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Nazi era bear no relationship to their forebears. Rather than being anti-semitic, a great number of young Germans are actually “philo-semitic” and display an extraordinary interest in and knowledge of Judaism. And a surprisingly large number have visited Israel, many as volunteers in kibbutzim and other Israeli institutions.
 
As is well known, Israel’s relationship with Germany is today closer than with most other countries; moreover Germany is one of Israel’s most important trading partners.While I do not have reliable statistics, I assume that a significant proportion of Israelis who move to Germany have parents or grandparents who were originally German nationals. That would entitle them to claim German citizenship. As a result they arrive in Germany not as foreigners but as holders of a German passport and are automatically 
entitled to enjoy the many benefits of citizenship. Among these are completely free healthcare including drugs and rehabilitation facilities as well as completely free university tuition, including a generous monthly stipend to help defray living costs. 
 
As anyone who has visited Berlin recently knows, the city offers an attractive and vital Jewish and Israeli scene including many synagogues of all denominations, Israeli, kosher and Jewish-style restaurants and clubs, Hebrew language publications, and both Progressive and Masorti rabbinic seminaries in nearby Potsdam.
 
I agree that it is a tragedy that anyone would wish to leave Israel. But I also believe it is unfair to vilify only those choosing Berlin. When I recently asked a young Israeli woman whom I met there, “why Berlin?” she answered: “Because it’s green, it’s open minded 
and it’s peaceful”. I pray that we will soon be able to say the same of Israel.

New emigres joining the military land in Israel


A charter aliyah flight carrying 127 young men and women who will be joining the Israel Defense Forces landed in Israel.

The special Nefesh B’Nefesh-Friends of the Israel Defense Forces flight, carrying a total of 350 new emigres to Israel, arrived early Tuesday morning in Israel.

Hundreds of families and friends as well as Israeli dignitaries gathered at Ben Gurion Airport for an arrival ceremony featuring an address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Each of the 350 people who have made aliyah today have decided to link their personal future with the future of the Jewish state and the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said. “But you’ve decided to do something else. You’ve decided to defend the Jewish future, and to have the opportunity to do so is a great privilege. It wasn’t accorded to previous generations of Jews.

“In previous times, for almost two millennia, the Jews could not defend themselves. This is the great transformation that occurred in our time—that we can regain our destiny and defend our future—and this is a privilege that you have now decided to practice personally, thereby altering your lives and the Jewish future as well.”

The prime minister asked Nefesh B’Nefesh founder Tony Gelbart to arrange a meeting with the new soldiers in three years, when they have finished their military service, to salute them again.

The flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.

The Friends of the IDF and Nefesh B’Nefesh are working to expand their existing partnership, which provides comprehensive support for Lone Soldiers, who serve in Israel though their families live in the Diaspora. The program offers assistance before and during army service, as well as with post-army acclimation into Israeli life.

More than 2,700 Lone Soldiers from around the world are now serving in the IDF, including more than 900 from North America, 625 from Russia, 390 from Ukraine and 250 from France.

More than 4,800 American, Canadian and British Jews have or will be making aliyah this year, which marks Nefesh B’Nefesh’s 10th anniversary.