We are in the season where we read from the book of Bamidbar or Numbers, which describes the Jewish people's journey in the desert. One of the tragic events described is the sin of the ten spies and their evil report about the land. The people cried on the 9th of Av when the report came in, a "crying for nothing," and G-d told Moses that in return this date would be a date of crying for generations. In essence, the evil report of the spies came because they were either afraid, or did not want to make Aliya, and move to Israel.

Thanks to organizations like Nefesh Benefesh, Aliya is again a subject that is heard and considered. But the real question is whether or not moving to Israel is necessary for a Jew living in the Diaspora, where life is pretty good for the Jews, they are able to observe as they please and anti-Semitism is not so extreme that Jews are persecuted.

Rabbi Kenny Cohen looks into this question and tries to prove how living in Israel is the fulfillment of a 2000-year-old Jewish dream. It is incredible just how fast Israel has developed into the beautiful country that it is. Living in Israel is an expression of gratitude to G-d for allowing us to live in a place that is Jewish. Hebrew is the spoken language. The national holidays are Jewish holidays and we take great pride in having an army protecting us. As far as the question as to where one can live as an observant Jew, it is really a question of what a person is looking for. Are we interested in comfort and materialism or do we want something much deeper; spirituality. It may be true that there are places outside of Israel that offer an abundance of affluence and comfort, but there is no place that can offer the holiness and spirituality of Israel. That is the choice of making Aliya or not.

Machon Meir is a Center for Jewish Studies located in the heart of Jerusalem, in the neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe. It was established by Rabbi Dov Bigon shortly after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. For the last 35 years, the center has been a place for all of Am Yisrael to come and learn more about their Jewish roots. It has expanded into a facility with over 500 students and classes in Hebrew, English, Russian, French and Spanish.


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