Israel is complicated. Sometimes things happen there that disturb us and cause us to question our commitment to her. But for many reasons, we simply cannot.
Our tradition teaches that Kol Yisrael Arevim zeh la-zeh—All Jews are responsible for one another—and nowhere do we actualize this more than in our work through the Jewish Agency of rescuing every Jew in danger from around the world and absorbing them into the modern State of Israel.
Last week in Israel, we had the opportunity to meet with two such groups whom we helped get to Israel, Ethiopians and Ukrainians. We have been talking about the rescue of Ukrainians since February and our community has raised more than $200,000 for this effort. We have been talking about the rescue of Ethiopians for decades, and likewise our community has helped finance this endeavor. But our work is not over.
Perhaps the only similarity between the Ethiopian olim and the Ukrainian olim is that both groups need to learn Hebrew, although some Ukrainians have a little basic knowledge. Ukrainians come well educated from a first-world country, but in an emergency situation and without most of their possessions and without their military—aged men. Ethiopians had lots of time to prepare for aliya, some waiting as long as 19 years, but coming from a third-world country lacking the skills necessary to thrive in a first world and technologically advanced society.
Meeting with these people and hearing about their gratitude and optimism despite their struggles was inspiring. Allowing them to become second-class citizens, because we did not finish the job we started, would be reprehensible. Absorption of all these people continues to be our responsibility—one that Israel does not take lightly.
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