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  • Writer's pictureOperation Tarshish

Up, up and away!

Up, up and away! Ever wonder what Israel’s national airline El Al means? The two words are found in the Bible in Hosea 11:7, and according to Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) they mean go upwards towards the Most High. Today the Israeli carrier is not exactly reaching the skies with most of its fleet grounded. Thanks to the coronavirus, Israel’s border is closed to the millions of visitors normally flocking to the holy land each year. El Al is, however, expected to revive its flights to the U.S. by the end of May, but not without a measure of uncertainty. What will life and travel be like when the skies reopen? COVID-19 has many members of the Jewish community outside of Israel rethinking their future. “… the corona pandemic has led to a change in the way Diaspora Jews look at the Jewish state, from the Zionist to the Haredim to the progressives.” says New York’s Rabbi Elchanan Poupko. Hit hard by high numbers infected by the virus, pockets of Poupko’s Jewish community felt “stranded and abandoned by state policies.” Israel, on the other hand, handled the outbreak swiftly and more effectively resulting in far fewer fatalities, contends the rabbi in Arutz Sheva’s The Aliyah Apocalypse is Coming. “Once the airways reopen, and a ravaged world economy emerges,” he says, “it is likely we will see … Americans from all walks of life … find the fast track back to Israel.” The escalation of the number of North American Jewry applying to immigrate to Israel confirms Poupko’s prediction. According to the Jewish non-profit Nefesh B’Nefesh, that number jumped 50% in the month of April 2020 compared to the same month a year ago. Scores of American and Canadian Jews are clearly not wasting any time, nor can they afford to, argues Rabbi Sgt. Major Jeremy Gimpel. “We have no idea how this global pandemic is going to unfold, but I have a deep terrible feeling that it is not going to be pretty.” An American immigrant to Israel himself, he reaches millions of listeners in 120 countries on his Israel Inspired podcast. “Right now there is still a window of opportunity to make it to Israel … before the global upheaval. Don’t waste a minute, pack now and move to Israel while you still can.” To some, Rabbi Gimpel’s impassioned plea sounds alarmist and extreme, to others it bears resemblance to the pre-WWII warnings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky to the Jews of central and eastern Europe. “Catastrophe is approaching. … the volcano that will soon spew out its flames of extermination,” he told  them in 1938. Tragically, history proved his predictions correct. In the midst of the pandemic, a trickle of Diaspora Jews are finding their way back to Israel. In Hebrew, they are going up (spiritually) or making “Aliyah”. On May 6, 2020, eighteen North American Jews returned, fulfilling the 3,000-year-old biblical prophesies — gloved, masked, and escorted to two weeks of quarantine. “Every single prophet in the Tenach (Old Testament) spoke the same prophecy: the return of the Jewish people from the nations back to the land of Israel,” noted Rabbi Gimpel in his podcast The Final Return of the Jews. “It is the most prophesied event in the Bible. It is going to happen.” Further, he points to Mordecai’s exhortation to Queen Esther — the heroine in the Bible who used her proximity to the king to save the Jewish people 2,500 years ago. “Who knows? Perhaps you were [postioned] for just such a time as this,” he famously told her. As nations reopen, life reboots and people readjust to a new post-pandemic world, those words could ring true for today’s followers of Jesus. In Isaiah 49:22, the Sovereign Lord says, “See, I will beckon the gentiles …” to carry your sons and daughters back to the land of Israel. For us who are blessed with the privilege of living at such a time as this to witness the ancient Aliyah prophecies unfold, let’s pray that we, like Queen Esther, will be willing to help our Jewish friends who decide it’s time to go up and go home — back to Israel. Marney Blom, May 18, 2020

Marney Blom is news director for the Acts News Network

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