Mar 3, 2011

Coming Home?

When I read articles and see ads etc. urging people to make aliya and they use the phrase, "coming home" for people who haven't lived in Israel before, it annoys me.

I've been thinking about why it annoys me and I've come up with the following.  It's not home.  Yet.  If the person is moving to Eretz Yisrael, they obviously live elsewhere.  They are leaving their home and going to Eretz Yisrael!

When Hashem told Avrohom, "Lech lecha" - He said, leave your land, your birthplace, and your father's home.  He didn't tell Avrohom, "Lech lecha, you're going home."  His leaving home was very much emphasized, with lessons we derive from the use of those particular words.

I am not aware of any Jewish sources from the Written or Oral Torahs or Rishonim that speak of moving to Eretz Yisrael as "going home."  That doesn't mean they don't exist - if anyone has sources, please do tell.  I am inclined to believe it's a modern-day Zionist term, maybe something an ad agency came up with, to put those not yet living in Eretz Yisrael on a guilt trip (it sounds like Mother asking you to come home - how could you decline?) and to romanticize moving to Eretz Yisrael and associate the major move with warm fuzzy feelings (for those for whom "home" still has that connotation ...).

I think the phrase "going" or "coming home" in reference to Eretz Yisrael actually undermines aliya because it fails to acknowledge (forget about validate) that uprooting oneself from "your land, your birthplace and your father's home" is extremely difficult.  After all, how hard can "going home" be? What's the matter with you that you don't want to "go home"? So people either dismiss that slogan with, "What are they talking about? I am home," or they are convinced that they are "going home" when they make aliya and when they end up in a situation where the language, mentality, culture etc. feel nothing like home, they are disillusioned.  Seems to me that it would be much more practical and helpful if the possibility (even likelihood) of feeling out of place (definitely not at home) is mentioned up-front (though it needs to be done wisely so as not to turn people off from the idea of aliya).

I find that many calls for aliya are manipulative, whether it's the "come home" approach, the scare 'em into going approach, or the guilt trip them into going approach.  The articles that most inspire me are the ones where a person truly loves Eretz Yisrael and expresses it in positive ways.

1 comment:

  1. I never thought about it before but do see your point. I guess that Israelis feel that they have created a home for Jews. My older daughter went to seminary in Yerushalyim, the year of the twin tower collapse. There were also many p'guim that year in Israel and people were not sure if they wanted to go trough with sending their daughters. In the end, rabbonim here in the US said that they should go to EY and face the dangers along with their fellow Jews and there were Israelis who expressed gratitude that they did that; that the Americans put enough importance on the people of Israel to take risks with their own children.