Should modern Hebrew be renamed Israeli

"Alija", the ascent

Jews come to Israel regularly to start a new life in the country
Photo: Nefesch B‘Nefesch | Press photo

The longing of the Jews for the Land of Israel is already palpable in biblical times. The reformer Martin Luther scoffed at this. In modern times, Jews immigrate on a large scale. This is a miracle even for seculars.

The Hebrew word "Alija" literally means "to go up". One always goes up to the Land of Israel and its center, Jerusalem. This also applies to people who come to Israel from higher regions, such as the Alps or the Himalayas. In return, leaving the Holy Land is always a descent. So it says of Abram in Genesis 12, verse 10: "Abram went down into Egypt ..." His return to the promised land is described at the beginning of the following chapter: "And Abram went up out of Egypt" (Genesis 13 ,1). The Hebrew Bible, like modern Hebrew, is consistent in this usage.

“We sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept when we thought of Zion,” complained the psalmist (Psalm 137: 1). “If I forget you, Jerusalem, my right hand will wither. My tongue should stick to the roof of my mouth when I don't think about it, when I don't raise Jerusalem above the height of my joys, ”says every bridegroom after the promise of loyalty to his bride and crushes a glass in memory of the destroyed Jerusalem.

In the year 70 AD, the temple, which had been built by some returnees from Babylon and magnificently renovated by Herod the Great, was razed to the ground. After the Second Jewish War in 135, the Roman Emperor Hadrian banned Jews from entering Jerusalem on pain of death. Judea was renamed Palestine, Shechem was renamed Neapolis (now “Nablus”) and Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina. Any Jewish connection to the promised land and its holy cities should be made unrecognizable.

But the longing remained. After every meal, Jews throughout the millennia have prayed: "Have mercy, Lord, our God, on your people Israel, on Jerusalem, your city, on Zion, the abode of your glory." the Jewish people demonstrate the salvation from Egypt every year. At the end of every seder evening, one promises one another: "Next year in Jerusalem!"

Jews clung to the hope of "Aliyah" when Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, called "Ramban" or "Nachmanides" for short, found only two Jews in Jerusalem in the middle of the 13th century, but no synagogue and no Torah scroll. There was not a single Torah scroll in the city from which the Torah was supposed to emerge (Isaiah 2: 4; Micah 4: 2). In the period between the Sixth and Seventh Crusades, Nachmanides discovered that there was no longer any hope that a Jew could have lost.

The people of Israel held fast to the goal of returning home, even when Martin Luther scoffed at it in the 16th century: “So let them go to jns land and to Jerusalem, temple bawen, set up priesthood, princedom and Mosen with his law and therefore they themselves in turn The German reformer added sarcastically: "When that has happened, they should soon come after us on our heels and become Jews too" (WA 50.323, 36-324.8). If Lutherans were to take the words of the eloquent reformer seriously, they would have to report to the next rabbi for circumcision today, 500 years after the 95 theses were posted at the castle church in Wittenberg. Because "the Jews faren jns land and to Jerusalem". In 2016, the largest Jewish community in the world will again be living in the Land of Israel. Not so many Jews have lived in the Land of Israel in two and a half millennia.

A cry for redemption

"From the depths, Lord, I call to you" (Psalm 130: 1) - that is the correct position of prayer, explains an Orthodox Jew and points out that many synagogues are built in such a way that you have to go down a few steps to then actually to be able to call out “from the depths”. Above all, however, this “song of going up”, as the title of Psalm 130 goes, is a cry for redemption from dispersion. If the apostle Paul promised that one day “all Israel would be saved” (Romans 11:26), then in Jewish thought this automatically included that God through the prophet Ezekiel (39:28) would not only allow the people to return into the country, but also promises: "I don't want to leave any of them there".

The God of Israel heard the cry of his people. Since the absolute low point of Jerusalem at the time of Rabbi Mose Nachmanides and the construction of the "Ramban Synagogue" named after him, a steady stream of Jews began to move up into the Land of Israel. Rabbi Elia from Ferrara arrives in Jerusalem in 1483, 120 new immigrants from Damascus in 1579, Judah the Pious in 1700 with 1,000 of his followers. The so-called Hurva Synagogue still reminds of him today. Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz arrives in 1721. In the 18th century, 19 Talmud schools were founded in Jerusalem by Jews from Italy, Constantinople, Amsterdam and Aleppo. Rabbi Shalom Sharabi from Yemen arrived in Jerusalem in 1760 and in 1771 Rabbi Menachem Mendel from Vitebsk founded a Hasidic settlement with 300 followers.

In 1799, with Napoleon's campaign in the Orient, the Holy Land became the focus of international interest. Before the French emperor fails at the gates of Akko, he proclaims that Palestine and Jerusalem should be returned to their rightful heirs, the Jewish people.

This trend continued in the 19th century. Anti-Semitic outbreaks reinforce it. For example, when the Jews of Damascus were accused in 1840 of murdering the priest Toma and his Muslim servant in order to use their blood for the mazzot (unleavened bread) on Passover, the Sarajevo-born Rabbi Juda Alkalai urged his people to aliyah. In 1881 pogroms in Russia and Romania trigger the so-called “First Aliyah”. 40,000 Jews make their way to Palestine.

While the first Jewish settlements emerged around Jerusalem - Mishkenot Schaananim (1860), Mea Shearim (1873), Machane Jehuda (1887) - Jewish petitioners at the Berlin Congress (1878) campaigned for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Prince Otto von Bismarck declares them insane. Nevertheless, Zionism is forming as a secular political movement in Europe. At the beginning of September 1897, the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary immediately after the first Zionist Congress: “If I summarize the Basel Congress in one word - which I will take care not to pronounce publicly - it is this: I founded the Jewish state in Basel . If I said that out loud today, I would be greeted with universal laughter. Maybe in five years, at least in fifty, everyone will see it. "

The movement continues against immense resistance. Herzl tirelessly worked on the powerful of his time, asked the German emperor for a protectorate over the Jewish state and had to be told by Pope Pius X in Rome in January 1904: “The Jews did not recognize our Lord, so we can the Jewish people do not recognize. "

In 1899 the Pasha of Damascus expelled the Jews from a settlement on the Golan Heights. In April 1909 the first Jewish city in the Land of Israel was founded: Tel Aviv. In December of the same year the first kibbutz was built: Degania at the southern end of the Sea of ​​Galilee. In March 1917 the Turks expelled all Jews from Haifa and Tel Aviv.

In November 1917, the British government declared its support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine in the so-called “Balfour Declaration”. On July 24, 1922, the League of Nations in San Remo expressly mandated the British government in the Palestine Mandate to promote the aliyah and the settlement of the country by the Jewish people. Between 1919 and 1924, 35,000 idealistic pioneers with "certificates" from the British government came to the Mandate of Palestine. From 1924 to 1931, Polish economic sanctions drive many Jewish members of the petty-bourgeois class "up to Zion". Between 1929 and 1939, a quarter of a million Jews flee from Germany to Palestine from the Nazis. These large waves of Jewish immigration to Palestine aroused resistance from parts of the Arab population. Extremist leaders like the Grand Mufti and Hitler friend Haj Amin el-Husseini gain the upper hand and incite their supporters to bloody uprisings again and again, around 1929 and 1936. The British government reacts to the Arab violence by restricting and in some cases massive obstruction of the Jewish people Immigration to Palestine, a clear violation of the League of Nations mandate. David Ben-Gurion, who a few years later would become the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, sets the guideline during this difficult time: “We will fight together with England against Hitler as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper, as if there was no war. "

Population doubles

The raison d'être of the Jewish state of Israel, founded in 1948, is to offer refuge to oppressed Jews from all over the world. The young state was inundated by a wave of immigration, so that between 1948 and 1951 alone, the Jewish population in Israel doubled. The first immigrants came from Europe not only as Holocaust survivors. Around one million Jews had to leave their homes in Arab countries during this period because life there was made impossible for them. Most of them fled to Israel.

In the nearly seven decades of its existence, the State of Israel handled several major waves of immigration, so that today more than six million Jews live in the “land of their fathers”.

Eljakim HaEtzni has lived in Kirijat Arba near Hebron for 44 years. The almost 90-year-old lawyer and former Knesset member tirelessly defends the right of his people to live in the Land of Israel. He remembers how his family was expelled from Kiel in northern Germany in 1938 with the words: “Jews to Palestine!” “Now we are here, and you don't like it again!” He replies to his German audience. Years of struggle have led him to believe that only "facts on the ground" guarantee the permanent roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. The settler leader, who has grown old, no longer pays much attention to the goodwill of the world of nations, international law or international guarantees.

HaEtzni presents himself as a non-Orthodox, secular Jew. Nevertheless, he knows: “We are here by virtue of the Bible.” He does not believe in a God who cares about the fate of individual people. But he is intrigued by the fact that the Bible predicted 2,500 years ago that the people of Israel would disobey the commandments of their God; that it will therefore leave its land and be scattered all over the world; that it cannot assimilate there, but will return to its country after thousands of years of diaspora. “That cannot be explained rationally!” Knows the old gentleman.

From: Johannes Gerloff