Aliya, the immigration of Jews into Israel, is a phenomenon that affects all American Jews. Understanding this phenomenon means understanding what is arguably the fundamental question of American Jewry; it is that question that Liel Leibovitz sets out to answer in Aliya.
Leibovitz focuses on the stories of three generations of immigrants. Marlin and Betty Levin, searching for excitement and ideology, traveled to Palestine before Israel was even created. There, with Marlin working as a reporter and Betty volunteering with the Jewish underground movement, the two witnessed the bloody birth of the Jewish state. Two decades later, Mike Ginsberg, overcome with awe at the heroic Jews who fought for their country in the l967 war, immigrated as well and was involved in much of Israel’s tumultuous history, including the Yom Kippur War. He was a member of Kibbutz Misgav Am during the famous terrorist attack on the infants’ nursery there and helped repel numerous waves of terrorist attacks on his kibbutz. Finally, Danny and Sharon Kalker and their children left their home in Queens, New York, to move to a West Bank settlement in 2001, during one of the most unsettled phases in Israel’s existence.
Leibovitz explores the journeys of these American-Jewish immigrants to Israel, a journey that lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Jew.