A Jewish Daughter Plants Her French Family’s Roots Back in Israel

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5 Aug 2021
A Jewish Daughter Plants Her French Family’s Roots Back in Israel

In late July, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem helped to sponsor a special charter flight of 160 French Jewish immigrants who came to Israel hoping to start life anew in their ancestral homeland. Among the olim (newcomers) who landed that day from France were working-class Jewish families from crowded neighborhoods in Paris and elsewhere, along with successful doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and marketing and media professionals. The group also included 46 young people under the age of 18 who will enter the Israeli educational system this fall. After completing their mandatory quarantine, they have gradually begun to settle into their new homes.

France has the world’s third largest Jewish population, after Israel and the United States, with 500,000 Jews still living there. With several high-profile antisemitic incidents in recent years, along with new statistics that show a significant rise in antisemitic attacks, there are growing safety concerns among the Jewish community in France.

Rachel* is a 33-year-old young woman who came out of this tumultuous environment to Israel on the special chartered flight supported by the ICEJ. She shared her Aliyah story and why her decision to move to Israel could not wait any longer.

Rachel has always loved Israel and the desire to make Aliyah was birthed in her heart long ago. However, the thought of her as an only child leaving behind her elderly parents kept her from making a final decision to make the move to Israel. Her mother is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and her father is now in his late 80s. Rachel simply felt that she had to stay by their side all these years. Also, with over 10 years of experience as a poet, singer, actress and theatre company director, she seemed to have a good life in Paris.

Rachel also had dedicated herself both to art and to making the world a better place. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, it was always important for her to help the vulnerable, and to stand up to injustice. In her early adult life, Rachel was a volunteer helping refugees – such as the Yazidis – find refuge from the crisis they faced in the Middle East.

But in recent years, Rachel increasingly sensed she could no longer remain in France. She felt utterly betrayed by the very culture of liberalism and defending human rights which she had served in such a dedicated way. Due to the rise in violent antisemitism, it became impossible for Rachel to express her Jewish values without fear of becoming an outcast and the target of attacks. She also recalled how her family had always been uprooted and persecuted, and could never find their home in France.

Reaching the decision to make Aliyah was very difficult for Rachel. On the one hand, she would have to come alone, leaving everything behind to completely restart her life from scratch in Israel. On the other hand, Rachel felt that for the first time in generations it was her duty to become the first one from her family to plant roots in Israel. This dream had been passed down from generation to generation in the family and now she could finally make it come true.

Rachel confided that the final encouragement she received was from the Yazidi refugees she was assisting. They told her how lucky and blessed she was, that she had a homeland where she could go. They would give anything to be able to have their own home to go to, yet they had none. “How blessed you are”, they said. These special words of encouragement deeply touched Rachel’s heart.

Now Rachel is enrolled in the Jewish Agency’s ‘Ulpan Etzion Jerusalem’ program – an intensive Hebrew language class which will help provide a softer landing for her in Israel. We pray that Rachel will build the safer life she always dreamed of in Israel.

In these turbulent times, as the Jewish people are facing a new wave of global antisemitism, let us help them return safely to their ancestral homeland of Israel. Please support the ICEJ's ongoing Aliyah efforts, as we continue bring Jews home from the four corners of the earth. 

 

(*Real name changed for privacy reasons.)