On Tuesday, March 16, Knesset member Betzalel Smotrich sat down with Rabbi Sholom Gold and Rabbi Meyer Fendel to discuss the different needs of olim in Israel. Rabbi Gold and Rabbi Fendel are both olim themselves who have established Jewish communities throughout the world.
Rabbi Meyer Fendel helped build yeshiva day schools on Long Island. He founded the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) and the Young Israel of West Hempstead. Later, Rabbi Sholom Gold became the rabbi of the Young Israel. Under his leadership it became one of the first day schools to encourage their high-school seniors to spend a year in an Israeli yeshiva or seminary. Many graduates of HANC now live in Israel. In the 1980s, the Fendels made aliyah to Har Nof. Continuing his role as educator, Rabbi Fendel then helped to establish a seminary for girls, Machon Moriah, and taught there for many years.
Rabbi Gold has a history of building Jewish communities throughout the world. As a young man in 1959, Rabbi Gold came to Toronto to establish the Ner Israel Yeshiva, where he also built and developed Congregation Bnei Torah in Willowdale, a northern suburb of Toronto. Becoming rabbi of Young Israel of West Hempstead in 1971, he built one of the first eruvin in North America, which quickly became a model worldwide. In 1982, Rabbi Gold made aliyah and settled in Har Nof, where he founded its first English-speaking shul. Rabbi Gold currently lives in Yerushalayim and is the dean of the Avrom Silver Jerusalem College for Adults OU Israel Center. For the past decade, Rabbi Gold has been at the forefront of the struggle for Eretz Yisrael. He was one of the founders of the Ichud Harabanim L’maan Eretz Yisrael V’am Yisrael, under the guidance of the Chief Rabbis Avraham Shapira, z’l, and Mordechai Eliyahu, z’l. And lastly, his shiurim, the “Rabbi Gold’s Tapes” have been an inspiration to countless families who have made aliyah.
During Tuesday’s discussion, Rabbi Gold spoke about how Eretz Yisrael has been built through many trials and tribulations. He compared them to various challenges he faced building a community for Americans in Har Nof 40 years ago. He discussed the difficulties olim face when they arrive in Israel, such as cultural gaps, language barriers, and finding a parnassah.
Betzalel Smotrich showed great appreciation for the journeys Rabbi Gold and Rabbi Fendel made to live in Israel and help lay down roots for Jews from North America. He was grateful for the paths these two rabbis helped carve in Israel, as each inspired their sons to follow in the fathers’ paths. Rabbi Dov Fendel is rosh yeshiva in the famous Sderot Hesder Yeshiva and Rabbi Menachem Gold is a pulpit rabbi in Afula.
Betzalel said, “He has worked with Rabbi Doron Peretz, who is head of the Mizrachi movement, over the past couple of years to help Jews around the world develop a love for the State of Israel and to strengthen that love of those who have already made aliyah.” He discussed the finances he has helped secure for different organizations that aid Jews from around the world to connect with Israel.
Betzalel believes Israel needs to be prepared for the hundreds of thousands of Jews who are going to make aliyah in the coming years. He said, “I think that there is a possibility right now to bring hundreds of thousands of Jews to Eretz Yisrael. Although a large number of them are from Europe, there are also many from the United States. The election of Joe Biden is very concerning. The Progressive Democrats are happy with the result, but the Orthodox Jews residing in the United States are not. Even those who are very comfortable financially in the U.S. are worried what is going to happen. We need to figure out what Israel can do to help American Jewry make aliyah.”
Towards the end of the meeting, Rabbi Gold asked Betzalel about his plan to “fix the country.” Betzalel said, “We need a big Religious Zionist party that has a clear vision that will [with G-d’s help] be a part of a strong nationalistic government. Our party will do a lot of great things.” He concluded by saying, “First and foremost, our party will help repair the judicial system that has been a source of many issues. Additionally, we will strengthen the Jewish identity, the settlement movement throughout Israel, and the Torah and yeshivot.”
Rabbi Gold and Rabbi Fendel gave a parting berachah: “Both of us are blessing Betzalel like the original Betzalel who built the Mishkan of Am Yisrael that you have a big and important job with lots of hatzlachah.”
Nefesh B’Nefesh Launches ‘Aliyah Inspired’ Online Event
Nefesh B’Nefesh, the nonprofit organization that facilitates aliyah from North America, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), and the Jewish National Fund-USA, proudly launched its ‘Aliyah Inspired’ virtual event.
‘Aliyah Inspired’ is a month-long program with over 30 events, where prospective olim can meet with diverse groups of olim from different backgrounds, ages, and experiences. These olim will virtually welcome people into their homes as they share their aliyah stories, challenges, and inspiration.
The online seminars will include a series of ‘Making Aliyah Work’ panels, where future olim can hear from people in their field of work and how they have made aliyah work for them. Other webinars will include meetings with olim from various communities around Israel, as well as hearing from parents discussing the education system and retirees sharing their experiences and reasons for why they choose Israel. In addition, Nefesh B’Nefesh will host a number of inspirational sessions with Jewish community leaders, authors, and a special dedicated event for medical professionals.
“Nefesh B’Nefesh is proud to be able to continue to provide the services our olim need—even from afar,” said Sarah Kantor, head of marketing and events at Nefesh B’Nefesh. “Aliyah Inspired is just another example of how we have worked to overcome some of the challenges of the pandemic in order to support our olim in various ways, and additionally offer inspirational content, on their way to fulfilling their Zionist dream of living in Israel. While our team looks forward to being able to meet in person, we are excited to offer this dedicated programming this coming month.”
In previous years, Nefesh B’Nefesh has held a Mega Aliyah Event in the New York area, inviting prospective olim from around North America to participate in an all-inclusive one-day event, helping them plan and prepare for their upcoming aliyah. Last year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, the organization had to cancel the event and within a few days pivoted the entire fair into an online conference in real time.
The virtual event is available to any potential olim across the world. The event calendar and further information can be found at: NBN.org.il/aliyahinspired/#calendar.