Aliyot to Palestine

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The term "aliyah" (plural: aliyot) refers to the return, or immigration, of Jews to Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), either before Israel was granted statehood--when it was often referred to as "Palestine"--or after, when it became the State of Israel in 1948.

Aliyah, as it is conceived within the ideology of Zionism, is part of Israel's "Law of Return," which states that any Jew (and some others) may legally immigrate to and settle in Israel, and that they may be granted automatic Israeli citizenship. When a Jew does this, one says that they are "making aliyah."

For many religious Jews, making aliyah is a return to the "Promised Land," which, as stated in the Bible, is the land promised to the  Jewish people, or rather to those who are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were the Hebrew patriarchs.

Please read some first-hand accounts as told to the Museum and others, by those who were able to leave the Europe for the promise of a new life where one could work hard and succeed; where they could live a life free from religious persecution and strife--in the Holy Land of Eretz Israel. Please choose from the stories below....

The Bashan Family
     The Bashan family is deeply rooted in the founding of modern-day Israel. Their ancestors might be considered 19th Century equivalents of the 17th Century "Mayflower" pioneers of America. Similarly, they fled persecution and hardship in their European homeland to establish their new home in an almost empty territory, in what they considered to be the biblical Promised Land, which became the modern state of Israel over a century later....

Kibbutz Matzuba
Matzuba is a kibbutz in the Western Galilee in northern Israel. The village was established in February 1940 by immigrants from Germany who were members of the Maccabi Hatzair Zionist youth movement. Matzuba experienced very tough, and even unbearable times.

"They worked the land with horses and donkeys harnessed to ploughs;
they removed the rocks and stones with their bare hands.
At night they kept guard lest there be Arab attacks, thieves and infiltrators."

      Read the story of Shulamit and Shlomo, two of the first settlers of Kibbutz Matzuba.

From Anny Matar
     "Our lives in Czernowitz were destroyed one bright sunny day in June 1940 when Russian boots walked over all that we held dear, taking it away without 'as by your leave,' chased after us 'capitalists,' deported some of us to Siberia, with some others of us escaping this deportation. The next deportation we faced was in 1941, from the ghetto to Transnistria. Well, in my case, it happen to be my dream. Being active in  Betar, the only movement which seemed to suit my fighting spirit and which fed me with Jewish history, history in general and dreams of our Betar leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, it gave me a ray of hope during my darkest hours, and there were many such hours...."


--photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD





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