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Biblical understanding about Israel
On the 7th of Cheshvan we read a Torah portion in which Abraham is told to leave his home and to go to Israel. Starting 2016 this day (which is October or early November) is celebrated as Aliyah Day, a new National Holiyday. This year it is celebrated on the 8th of November.
"The immigration to Israel is a symbol of Jewish history, during which the Jews lived in Israel, were expelled, but never abandoned it for a moment and returned to it—their historical home—as part of the Zionist national miracle,” – states the bill of the Israeli Knesset.
We invite you to celebrate this day together with the First Home in the Homeland and introduce you to a new family from Kazakhstan – Yevgeniy and Irina Ratner with two daughters Mikaella (5 years old) and Adriana (2 years old) that made aliyah in August 2016 via First Home to kibbutz Urim (South of Israel).
Yevgeniy and Irina Ratner with Mikaella (right) and Adriana (left)
Irina: We didn't flee from Kazakhstan, we had a very stable and wealthy life. Yevgeniy was the CEO of a big company, I could afford not to work. But our roots called us here. Some friends told us "Don't worry, if you don't like it in Israel, you can always come back". We couldn't understand what they were talking about – because we went home. Some people are moving here and bring their countries with them, but we had Israel in our hearts for so many years that it felt like home immediately.
What does it mean to grow up as a Jew in Kazakhstan?
Yevgeniy: It means not knowing anything about your identity. When I first came to the synagogue in 2000, it was Purim celebration, I was so frightened and so amazed. Do I belong here? Do I need it? About two hundred Jews, kids with kippah running around, Hebrew prayers – I had never met so many Jewish people at once before that day! At school I was the only Jewish boy in my class. When I was 10 years old I found the documents of my grandmother with the name on it – Elka. But I knew my granny as Emma and not Elka! Her father's name according to these documents was Gershon and not Grigoriy as I used to think. And, moreover, my father's name was Haim and not Yephim! Jews were forced to change their names if they wanted to be accepted in society.
Irina: In one of his speeches Rebbe from Lubavich said, that returning from darkness to the light we should bring the darkness with us and turn it into light. This is our work in coming back to G-d and to the Promised Land.
How do your kids feel in the First Home?
Yevgeniy and Irina: We want them to grow up in this Jewish surrounding, to feel the connection to this country and to its people. We were accepted very warmly by the members of the kibbutz. In the first evening everyone came to say ‘Welcome!’, on the second day we got an invitation to a birthday party. It was a real shock for us! People that hardly know us receive us as family! Children feel this attitude and become more confident and happy. They enjoy every moment of our life in Urim, at home. As well as we do!
Mikaella and Adriana in the playground
Have a look at some more photos below!
'First Home in the Homeland'
Projectmanager Jewish Agency for Israel
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