Aliyah-a web-enhanced lesson


Part I - Aliya: An historical overview


Since Israel became a nation, the Jewish people have returned to the land of their forefathers - they have come on Aliya - time and again. Just 70 years after the destruction of the first Temple, the Jews returned from exile to rebuild the Land, and they continued to return even after the destruction of the second Temple.



Why did Jews who had already established themselves in Babylon choose to return to Israel? Did all of them come (see Ezra 8:15, and Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Ma'aser 1:4-5)? Why do you think that was true? Why do you think that Jews continued their attempts to return to Israel, even when there was no Jewish government there?



Even prior to the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948, there were Aliyot of Jews who tried to move to their historic homeland and establish residence there. Since the creation of the State, waves of Olim have continued to come to Israel. During the last decade of the twentieth century, close to one million people have made Aliya.



Based on official Israeli government statistics, the overwhelming majority of the Olim of the past decade come from the former Soviet Union and from Ethiopia. There has been a consistent Aliya from the United States, as well.  What has been the moving force behind these Aliyot?  Why do you think that Aliya from the United States (and other Western countries) is so much smaller than Aliya from Eastern European, African and Arab countries?



Still, about 2,000 American Jews move to Israel every year. Why do you think that these people choose to live in Israel? If you would like to see what some of them say, see "Why Aliya?" . Which of their reasons appeal to you? Why?


There are many resources for people who choose to make Aliya. The World Zionist Organization (WZO) tries to encourage Aliya and give guidance to people who are considering a move to Israel.
There are groups that specifically try and help offer information to potential Olim from English speaking countries. Tehilla offers information on communities, careers and life for Olim to Israel. The mission of Nefesh B’Nefesh is to revitalize North American Aliyah and to expand it for generations to come by removing the financial, professional, and logistical obstacles that are preventing many “would-be” Olim from fulfilling their dream.


What kind of questions would you ask before deciding to move halfway across the world? 

Who would you turn to for advice on these questions?


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Some sum-up questions:

°   Why have Jews tried to come and live in Israel over and over again since they were exiled thousands of years ago?

°   What opportunities have come up over the past century?

°   What Jewish communities have taken advantage of the opportunity to move to Israel?

°   Why have those communities moved in greater numbers than other communities of Jews?

°   What connection do you feel to the Israel today?


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Part II - Aliya: Contemporary Reality

Choosing a place to live is always difficult. Although Israel is a very small country (it is about the size of the state of New Jersey) in many ways it is one of the most diverse countries in the world.



Physically, Israel has the lowest spot in the world, as well as mountain ranges. It includes the largest natural crater in the world. Spiritually, Israel is home to three major world religions. Economically, Israel is at the forefront of the technology boom.


In many ways, Israel is at the center of the world. Invariably, your daily newspaper will have a story about the goings-on in Israel on its front page.

Where would you want to live in Israel?

What kind of climate do you like? - hills and mountains or plains, shores or inland, desert or forest?

What kind of industry are you interested in?

What kind of community are you looking for?

What level of kibbutz galuyot are you interested in? mixed? religious? Secular?


Israel has practically everything. Here is a range of locations where Israelis - and, of course, Olim live. Take a few minutes to find them on the map, read about them, and think about what appeals to you.





Large Cities:

Beer Sheva



Tel Aviv

Other places to live in Israel:

Bet Shemesh

Kiryat Shemona









Ma'aleh Adumim



Yehuda V'Shomron  (These are areas captured by Israel in the Six Day War in 1967.  Included are communities in: Gush Etzion, just south of Jerusalem, Binyamin, just north of Jerusalem, Shomron just west of Tel Aviv Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea, Gaza Coast, on the southern coast of the Mediterranean.)


What do you look for when thinking about where to live?

The climate?

The history of the place?

Large city vs. smaller community?

The kind of community that you will find there?

What kind of jobs are available?

Sports and recreation?

Safety and security?

Other issues?


Choose one of the communities listed above (there are many other places to that you might live in Israel. You can choose a community that is not on this list, as well.) as the place that you might be interested in living. Write a few paragraphs about how that particular community answers the concerns about where you want to live.  Are your thoughts about choosing where to live the same when thinking about what community is best for you in the country that you live in now? Why or why not?

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Some sum up questions:


°   About how big is the State of Israel?

°   What is the largest natural crater in the world? Where in Israel is it located?

°   What is the lowest point in the world? Where is it located in Israel?

°   Where can someone go skiing in Israel?

°   Name one city in Israel that is in:

°   The South,  The North,  The Center, The Mediterranean coast, Near the Kinneret

°   Which communities in Israel today could you feel comfortable living in?


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The Lookstein Center, © 2003.


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