Why Make Aliyah Now? A Wartime Perspective
You’ve been considering how to make Aliyah to Israel and may have even started your preparations. But with war raging, should you put those plans on hold? Or, is now still the time to make Aliyah?
The simple answer is that now is the time. Read on to discover why.
What Is Aliyah?
The word “Aliyah” is Hebrew and roughly translates to “rise” or “ascent” in English. But in more recent times, the word has been co-opted to mean something more tangible – immigration to Israel.
As the country that perhaps most defines the Jewish faith, particularly in terms of its ever-wandering people finally finding a homeland, Israel opened its doors to all Jews who wished to immigrate in 1950. And since then, it has worked hard to make it as easy as possible for those of the Jewish faith to make Aliyah to Israel using a fairly simple application process.
That process is still in place even with the escalating conflict against Hamas.
Reasons for Aliyah to Israel
Your worry may be that making Israel your home during such a challenging time is an unwise thing to do. But it isn’t. There are many reasons for Aliyah to Israel, even in the face of aggression from those who dispute Israel’s claim to its land.
Reason 1 – It’s Still Easy to Apply and Move
Israel actively encourages Jewish people to make Aliyah to Israel and provides a ton of support along the way. For instance, The Jewish Agency for Israel can set you up with a specific Aliyah consultant, who works with you on gathering your documentation and completing the application process needed to make your journey. That process also includes obtaining your visa and immigration paperwork – both of which you can handle through the agency – before making your move.
And here’s the best part:
At least, your one-way flight to Israel to complete Aliyah is free. Israel wants to encourage as many Jewish people as possible to make the move, which is why the country provides free air travel into Israel so you don’t have to worry about raising travel funds.
Reason 2 – There Are Many Benefits Beyond the Free Flight
While getting a free flight is one of the biggest reasons for Aliyah to Israel, the country also wants to make sure you have everything you need to build your new life once you’ve completed immigration. Hence, there are a series of benefits you can apply for once you’ve touched down.
These benefits include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Rent Subsidy – Starting in the eighth month of Aliyah, the Ministry of Housing offers rental assistance to ensure you have the money you need to maintain your living conditions in Israel.
- Health Coverage – Assuming you’re not a former A-1 visa holder, the National Insurance Institute provides new Aliyah immigrants with a maximum of six months of basic healthcare coverage.
- Waived Customs Charges – You’re not expected to leave every aspect of your life before Israel at home once you make Aliyah. A customs benefit allows you to ship many major appliances and household products into the country for free.
- Free Taxi – Don’t worry about being stranded at the airport after receiving your free flight. Anybody who makes Aliyah from outside of Israel is entitled to a free tax ride to a destination of their choosing once they arrive.
There are others. For instance, eligible young Olim (the term used to describe people who make Aliyah to Israel) can receive heavy discounts on tuition fees when they go to university in Israel. Furthermore, the money you earn in Israel is subject to income tax discounts and you’ll even find that you enjoy lower interest rates for mortgages on properties worth up to 300,000 NIS. Plus, you enjoy several tax breaks on money that you earn overseas. For instance, those generating passive income from ventures launched in the United States can still receive that money while in Israel, with tax breaks being applicable for a decade after you make Aliyah.
In short, Israel wants to make your transition into your new life as comfortable as possible. It also provides ongoing benefits, often making it cheaper for those who make Aliyah to Israel to live in the country compared to living elsewhere.
Reason 3 – Israel Has a Constantly Declining Unemployment Rate
Once you’ve made Aliyah, you’ll switch your focus to something important – finding a job. Thankfully, that is easier now – even in a time of conflict – than it has been at any point during the last two decades.
Take a look at this chart from Statista:
The first thing you’ll notice is a near-constant downward trend in Israel’s unemployment rate between 2003 and 2022. From the 2003 peak of 13.51%, unemployment has dropped by a little over 10% in the 20 years that followed, hitting 3.48% in 2022.
Now, take a closer look at the figures. You’ll see that 2022’s 3.48% unemployment rate is the lowest out of all of them, with only the 3.8% achieved in 2019 managing to break the 4% barrier. These stats paint a picture of a country with a vibrant economy, with jobs available to almost all. As long as you’re willing to seek employment – and you have appropriate talents – you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to work after you make Aliyah to Israel.
Reason 4 – You’ll Feel at Home Among People Who Share Your Faith
You don’t need a recounting of the many thousands of years that the Jewish people spent wandering, or the many tragedies that have befallen the faith during those years. You already understand them. But what you may not understand is that one of the biggest reasons for Aliyah to Israel is that it allows you to live somewhere that is home to the Jewish people.
Right now, Israel’s population demographics heavily skew in favor of people who identify themselves as Jewish. Almost three-quarters of the population (73.3%) are considered Orthodox Jewish, with a further 5.6% classifying themselves as Jewish even though they don’t meet the full requirements to be included in official figures.
By making Aliyah, you’ll live amongst people who understand the challenges those of your faith have faced. You’ll feel safer as a result, especially in terms of expressing your faith without worries about antisemitism or people trying to repress you. In short, you’ll feel like you’re at home. And you’ll be welcomed with open arms by an enormous community who wish to make your life in Israel as enjoyable as possible.
Reason 5 – You Escape Rising Antisemitism
Unfortunately, antisemitism is on the rise in the United States.
These are the findings of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has conducted in-depth studies into rising anti-Jewish attitudes in the United States. According to their figures, around 85% of Americans believe in at least one antisemitic trope – essentially a stereotype – compared to 61% in 2019. A shocking 20% believe in at least six of these tropes, demonstrating that discrimination against Jewish people not only exists, but is perhaps more present than many Jewish people realize.
It’s a sad state of affairs. The ADL’s stats seem to represent a slow undoing of much of the goodwill that the Jewish people have spent so long building in the United States. If this trend continues, Jewish people may find it harder to escape antisemitism, especially if the belief in unwarranted tropes that the ADL highlights becomes more overt.
When you make Aliyah to Israel, you escape this slow-rising tide of antisemitism. As mentioned earlier, you’ll find your home, surrounded by people who share your faith, and won’t have to worry about your beliefs being a potential hindrance as you try to build a happier life.
Reason 6 – Building a Future for Youngsters
When you make Aliyah to Israel, you may do so for faith-based reasons. However, you’ll also put yourself in a position to build a stronger future for the most important people in your life – your children.
Israel has one of the strongest education systems in the world. According to Erudera – an online educational platform – 50.12% of Israel’s population has completed tertiary (or higher) education. This means they’re educated to degree level. Perhaps most importantly, this high rate of degree-holders places Israel in the top five countries in terms of the share of its people who have higher education.
When combined with the discounts on tuition provided for many qualifying young Olim, this demonstrates a strong commitment to education in Israel. Your children have opportunities – often funded by the government – to better themselves and receive the qualifications they need to obtain jobs and build lives in Israel for many years to come.
Reason 7 – It’s Easier to Stay Kosher
Let’s face it – it’s tough to stay kosher in the United States. Most restaurants and supermarkets aren’t especially kosher-friendly, with most only offering a handful of options (if any at all). It’s likely for that reason that only 17% of American Jews claim to keep kosher in the home, showing that the majority simply don’t.
In Israel, keeping kosher is far easier.
That’s not to suggest that the entire country is kosher. Many restaurants and supermarkets sell non-kosher foods, leaving it up to you whether you want to remain kosher or not. But you’ll find that all but one of the country’s major supermarkets – Tiv Taam being the only exception – stock solely kosher food. You’ll also find that your food is clearly marked kosher or non-kosher, making it easier to stick to your diet.
Plus, there’s an extra bonus – you can find kosher fast-food restaurants in Israel. That means no more worrying about accidentally breaking kosher rules when you simply want a quick snack or meal.
Reason 8 – You Will Have Full Rights Once You Arrive
You may feel somewhat wary about potential restrictions on your rights as an immigrant when you make Aliyah. You don’t need to be. One of the main reasons for Aliyah to Israel is that there are no restrictions placed on your rights to vote or run for governmental office in the country.
Your rights are enshrined by the “Law of Return,” which was instituted in 1950 to build upon Israel’s Declaration of Independence made two years earlier. That declaration includes a passage that Israel will always be open for Jewish immigration, with the Law of Return enshrining that statement and the rights you receive.
In short, the law gives every Jewish person, no matter where they currently live, the right to receive citizenship to Israel should that make Aliyah. That citizenship comes with everything you could expect to have as somebody who’s born in the country, with the added benefit that many see those who make Aliyah to Israel as brave heroes because they’ve uprooted their lives to move to the Jewish homeland.
Is Now the Time to Make Aliyah to Israel?
The decision to make Aliyah is one of the biggest you’ll ever face, even when Israel is not in a period of conflict. You’re uprooting your entire life, moving away from everything you’ve ever known to come to a new country.
But the rewards speak for themselves.
Beyond the many initiatives Israel has in place to make Aliyah as easy as possible for those who want to make it, the spiritual benefits are near-infinite. You’ll live in a place made for the Jewish people and receive constant support from a community that understands your faith and the challenges you face. Furthermore, you’ll see for yourself just how important “The Land” is to those who live there, while gaining a renewed appreciation of the fighting spirit that has underpinned the Jewish faith for millennia.
Making Aliyah means committing to a concept – a homeland for Jewish people – that is bigger than yourself while laying a foundation on which future generations of your family can build. That may be more important than ever before now that Israel is literally fighting for the right to keep its home.