A homemade welcome home
A homemade welcome home
A homemade welcome home

By Shmuel Katz

Last week, in the middle of all the ceasing to fire, the Katzes got up before the crack of dawn and headed to the airport to meet an incoming flight. We’ve met the same flight once or twice over the years and even flew on it once ourselves. The thrill of meeting it hasn’t faded, and I hope it never will.

Our niece and her husband, Tova and Rabbi Yitzie Klapper (who most recently was a popular rabbi in HAFTR), made aliyah with their two young sons and we had the joy of greeting them and the 300+ other olim who came with them. Tova is the second member of Goldie’s family to move here; her younger brother came here after high school and never went back.

Goldie’s brother, both of her sisters, and the majority of her family live in the U.S. My immediate family all live here or will live here, with my parents planning to make aliyah next month, although my extended family is mostly still in the U.S. While we do get to visit with each other, not being with family is still one of the hardest parts of being here. And it is harder for Goldie than it is for me.

It is exciting to have another family member join us here. Tova was here when we made aliyah, as a shanah bet student at Shaalvim for Women. She had talked about aliyah, but we’ve heard the talk from quite a few of our relatives, so we (read “I”) never really believed that they would come. Yet here they are.

We have the additional pleasure of hosting them while they wait for their lift and take care of all the details of settling in. We therefore get to spend a lot of time getting to know our great-nephews, Ezra and Avi, who had no idea who we were (although our son Chaim did babysit them, so there was a connection they could make).

You might ask how someone would consider coming on aliyah, especially with all the turmoil we are experiencing. I know that some of you have canceled vacation or study plans here because of concern for safety, which puzzles me. Take a look around–how could anyone not come?

I am not talking about statistics or chances of anything happening. We could compare the statistics until the end of time; the “odds” of getting affected by violence are not enough to convince many people of anything, since their fears exist on a visceral level. Yet I still cannot understand the concern.

Yes, bad things can happen. They can happen anywhere. Yet there can be no arguing against the fact that there is so much good here. As I pointed out last week, we sometimes even see the good that emerges from a tragedy here. And even though we can’t say definitively that something is the result of specific Divine intervention, it is often hard to doubt it.

We are living in a time and in the land of semi-hidden miracles. A story has been circulating about a Gazan terrorist being interviewed on TV. The reporter asks him how, with thousands of rockets fired, so many of them hit empty fields and missed the cities. Can’t they aim?

The terrorist responds that they indeed can aim. They aim their equipment very well and the missiles are aimed perfectly at our cities. Yet, every time they fire a missile, he responded, the G‑d of the Jews moves the city out of the way and causes the rockets to miss.

I don’t know if it is a true story. But there is a deeper point here, one that is becoming clearer to see. If something is supposed to happen, it will happen no matter where I am. Knowing that it is G‑d who pulls all the strings and seeing how He protects us, how is it possible that anyone would contemplate staying away from G‑d’s country? Ï–

Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at shmu@migdalhatorah.org.


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