Future Presidents of Israel

President Moshe Katsav,

First Lady Gila Katsav,

Tehilla Founder,

Yoske Shapira [L-R]
the President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, presented Tehilla, the volunteer organization for
religious aliyah
[immigration], with the President’s Merit
Award, @The Source Israel was invited to attend the ceremony at the President’s
Residence in Jerusalem.

Although there was much to admire
in the impressive reception room — one particular item was unusually interesting
given the nature of the gathering: the letter Abba Eban sent to Albert Einstein
in November 1952.

the letter, Israel’s then Ambassador to the U.S., Abba Eban, asked Albert
Einstein to stand as a candidate for the presidency of Israel. “Acceptance
would entail moving to Israel and taking its citizenship”, wrote Eban to
Einstein. Albert Einstein declined the offer.

Unlike Einstein, each member of that
evening’s audience could, in theory, be a candidate for the presidency: the
invited guests had all made aliyah and are citizens of Israel. Over the last
year and a half, Tehilla has encouraged and aided over 300 families to settle
in Israel; since its founding in 1982, more than 12,000 families from Western
countries have made aliyah with Tehilla’s help.

“I know the needs of religious families
and can answer them,” stated Tehilla’s visionary founder, Yoske Shapira,
that rainy December evening at the President’s house.

David and Devorah Baruch made
the most important decision of their lives when they immigrated to Israel
from Costa Rica 6 months ago. “Until the year 2000, we did not consider aliyah
seriously. But that Pesach at the seder table, we realized that Next Year
in Jerusalem [recited at the end of the seder] ought to be a reality. With
Tehilla’s guidance, I made a pilot trip in June, and by August, my family
and I were living in Ranaana.”

New oleh David Baruch
Alexandra and Baruch David,
and their four children, also moved to Israel in August. Alexandra, an accomplished
pianist, and Baruch, an established voice teacher and singer, left Paris,
France, for Jerusalem.

That evening was inspiring. Whether
it was the sports medicine doctor from Canada, the lawyer of Iranian descent
from Toronto, the talented harpist from Minnesota, or the academics from
Arizona, each of these newly arrived immigrants infused the room with optimism.
They were stating their belief in Israel by moving here.

Despite the all-time lull in tourism,
Tehilla reports a tremendous surge of requests for exploratory pilot trips
to Israel and renewed interest in aliyah.

So was a future president of Israel
sitting in the audience that evening?

Text by
J. Isaacson. Photos courtesy of Tehilla.

Visit Tehilla online.

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