by Arutz-7 Editor, Israel National News
What will it take to get Jews in North America to realize that Israel is their home?  Various approaches to precisely this question were discussed at the Second Aloh Na'aleh Conference on Aliyah, held yesterday afternoon in Jerusalem.  Aloah Na'aleh is a new Israeli organization dedicated to promoting Jewish immigration to Israel from North America, and plans to dispatch several rabbis - themselves new olim (immigrants to Israel) from America - to speak to North American Jewish communities on this matter.  Speakers at the conference, MC'ed by Arutz-7 show host Jay Shapiro, brought to light important points about North American Aliyah, including what is being done to increase it and what still needs to be done.

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union) told the more than 200 participants that one of the problems is that "many people say we need a strong American lobby for financial and political support.  But I say that the biggest help they can give is to come here themselves.  Aliyah is one of our most important needs - and all the more so from the U.S.  This is because immigrants from America do not come because of anti-Semitism or the like, but rather because of a strong Jewish desire to come to Israel.  We need everyone -
but especially those who come with that burning desire and strength that will help us move things."

After Prof. Chaim Waxman of Rutgers University presented the statistical picture of American immigration, Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim head Rabbi Moshe Sosevsky noted recent developments that encourage one-year students to stay for longer and/or move to Israel.  Among these is increasing acceptance among parents and friends of Israel as a realistic choice.  Ramot Rabbi
Aharon Adler similarly noted that Yeshiva University Dean Rabbi Norman Lamm recently publicly called upon all YU students
to consider aliyah as a viable option.  Rabbi Adler noted that among those who studied for a year in Israel, some 10% have made aliyah - ten times higher than the proportion of immigrants within the total American Jewish population.

Rabbi David Marcus noted that
the four major organizations working for aliyah in North America today are the Jewish Agency,
the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), Tehilla, and Nefesh B'Nefesh.
He also noted the efforts of youth organizations such as Bnei Akiva and Yavneh, as well as Aliyah B'Simcha, Birthright and more.  Aloh Na'aleh Director Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness noted the broad support the organization enjoys, and the afternoon was capped by Nefesh B'Nefesh head
Rabbi Joshua Fass, whose efforts brought 400 American Jews on aliyah in one planeload two months ago.  After presenting a moving video of the arrival of the 400, Rabbi Fass reported to the audience that since July, no less than some 1,300 North American Jewish families have approached Nefesh B'Nefesh about making aliyah.
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