Op-Ed: Houston Jews – Rebuild in Israel!

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    Avi K

    Your future is here, in Israel. Come to the place where you belong.

    by Tzvi Fishman

    Hundreds of Jews have been left homeless as the once carefree Jewish community in Houston was devastated by a raging flood, two days before the Passover holiday commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. Orthodox synagogues, the last line of defense of against the widespread flood of assimilation which is ravaging American Jewry, were also severely damaged. This is the second time this year that flooding has overturned the quiet lives of the Jews of Houston.

    Dear Rick and the Jews of Houston:

    G-d wants us to trust in Him more than we trust in the dollar.

    The people of Israel are with you in your tragedy. But as you contemplate the task of rebuilding, why waste your time rebuilding your lives in exile. Your tragedy will only happen again. Whether by flood or fire, earthquake, persecution, or assimilation, the future of Diaspora Jewry is doomed. What point is there in rebuilding your houses and shuls in Houston, Texas when you can build new homes and synagogues in Israel?

    A Jew belongs in Israel. Nowhere is Houston mentioned in the Torah. Hashem told Abraham to go to Israel. He promised the Land to Isaac and Jacob. Our Forefathers lived there even though the Land was filled with idol worshippers. After a long exile in Egypt, Hashem told Moses to bring the Jews home to Israel.

    Brothers and sisters, the choice is before you. You can rebuild your shuls and houses until the next disaster hits, or you can dedicate your lives to helping to rebuild the Jewish Nation in the Jewish Land and thus become an active player in Jewish destiny. Yes, moving to a new place is difficult. But hundreds of thousands of European, and Russian, and Moroccan, and Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews have done it. You can too!

    Yes, there are also dangers in Israel. There were dangers when Hashem told Abraham to move here. There were dangers when Hashem commanded Moses and Joshua to bring the Jews to Israel when Israel was filled with savages.


    I don’t need to trumpet my Zionist credentials here – I think all know where I’m coming from. But the writer of this article, I am afraid, is a bombastic, insensitive, and uninformed advocate for Aliyah. He makes blanket assumptions about the Jews of houston, not noticing the Jews who live below the poverty line, who are elderly, infirm, or alone, who arent motivated by greed as he assumes Jews in America are. He denigrates the Federations who help these people. He trumpets the Aliyah of Russians and Ethiopians, and they are indeed miracles. But who does he think raised billions of dollars to pay for them? The Jews of Houston, and everywhere across the continent. HKBH used them as his instrument to accomplish this as much as he did anyone in Eretz Yisrael. I share his concern about assimilation. I even share his conviction that ultimately we will all build our lives in Eretz Yisrael. But denigrating the active role North American Jews have played in the rescue of those hundreds of thousands of Jews, questioning their loyalty to HKBH and Am Yisrael? Calling those who sustain kehilos and minyonim one day a week Jews? Thats the mehalech of an ingrate and an uninformed blowhard. I’m not impressed.


    “one-day-a-week Jews”

    If that slanderous denigration is typical of the midot of people in Eretz Yisrael, I’ll stay in galut.

    Avi K


    1. So think what would have happened if they had moved themselves with their know-how and businesses to Israel.

    2. The fact that some people might be exempt from a mitzva (although many elderly people make aliya and the community can take care of them just as well if not better here) does not mean that there is no mitzva. Wold you support a call to keep Shabbat and fast on Yom Kippur? What about emergency personnel who must work on Shabbat and sick people who must eat on Yom Kippur?

    3. Once a week is already a religious fanatic. The fact of the matter is that in Galut the Jews worship foreign gods as stated in keriat shema. Xmas parties, bonuses and tips. Loving their Sundays (as one rav derisively called it, “Shabbat shenia shel galuyot”), etc.

    4. If you think that he is sharp you should listen to a rav who has a strong mussar derech/ Just to give one example, Rav Yisrael Salanter once walked up to a talmid who was davening next to an open window and told him that he was a robber – he was blocking the air (@Charlie). In fact, mussar is reserved for people of whom one has a high opinion (Chavat Yair 152, generally printed after Hebrew editions of “Sefer Chafetz Chaim”).


    Think that’s bad? Check this one out:

    Is There Another Holocaust on The Horizon?

    By Batya Medad

    Unlike many of my peers of Jewish Ashkenaz-European background, I wasn’t raised with any Holocaust awareness, stories, survivors etc. You can stress the “awareness,” because I knew absolutely nothing about targeted Jewish death/murder in Europe during World War Two until the Diary of Anne Frankgot a lot of publicity when made into a movie in the late 1950’s and after that the Eichmann capture and Trial at around the same time. There may have been some earlier mentions in Hebrew School, but I did not feel particularly connected.

    Last week, just before Passover, when I was sitting shiva for my father, many of the comforters who came to the shiva were surprised that my paternal grandfather’s family, the Spiegelman’s of Neshelsk/Nasielsk, Poland had moved lock, stock and barrel to New York well before Hitler had taken over Germany. My father and his two siblings had grown up with two sets of grandparents, also his mother’s parents and most of his aunts (and families) had left Rogotshov, Belarus, well before the Holocaust, and lots of cousins on both sides.

    So many other Jewish families are plagued and haunted by stories of grandparents, great-grandparents who refused to read the writing on the wall, were opposed to Zionism and even refused the precious visas that their relatives had gotten for them to facilitate moving away from Europe. They refused to recognize the dangers that were sprouting around them. There had to be some GD given wisdom in my great-grandparents to have made the decision to leave.

    Deja vu… Today, when I read the news I see that the future will only get worse for Jews all over the world. It is so obvious to me. The “best” universities in the United States delegitimize the State of Israel, support BDS and Arab terrorism against us, and that includes me personally and all my family and friends. Nobody today is surprised when yet another antisemitic/anti-Israel statement comes of the United Nations and other international and foreign bodies. We all shrug our shoulders; so, what else is new? We’ve lost the ability to be shocked at the antipathy that Isrel suffers from all the time all over the world. Another Israeli official is threatened by a foreign country with a lawsuit for alleged terror? Big deal, not the first time.

    We shouldn’t let these things roll off like liquid on teflon. We should be fighting it and World Jewry should be on their way home to the HolyLand!!


    Avi K

    Actually, there already is a holocaust. It is the self-holocaust of assimilation. This also also occurred in Germany leading some demographers to believe that if the Nazis ym”s had not come to power German Jewry would have virtually disappeared in a generation or two.

    The atmosphere today in Europe is reminiscent of eighty years ago. In America democratic institutions are strong and there is high regard for Jews outside the major campuses. However, a secular liberalism that is trying to force everyone to bow down to the idol of toeva is making it harder to maintain Jewish values. There is also the issue of ballooning tuition charges, which is forcing many parents to send their children to public schools – and public schools today are not the bastions of conservatism that they were in past generations.

    Ideally, Jews should make aliya because it is a mitzva but history has shown that Hashem will settle for lo lishma.

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