JERUSALEM, Israel -- Hamas rockets could not deter two planeloads of French Jews from immigrating to their historical homeland Wednesday, which many see as the fulfillment of biblical promises.
Aliyah, immigrating to Israel under the Law of Return, literally means "to go up," a reference to the ascent to Jerusalem's Old City, nearly 3,800 feet above sea level, where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood atop the Temple Mount.
Israeli officials were on hand to welcome 430 French Jews when they touched down at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.
Israeli Minister of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption Sofa Lander and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky were among those greeting the nation's newest citizens.
"Despite the rocket onslaught against the people of Israel, not one immigrant from France has canceled his or her arrival," Sharansky said. "More and more people are asking whether Jews have a future in France, but no one doubts that French Jews have a future in Israel."
The new immigrants, who include 195 youngsters and 18 babies, will make their homes in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Netanya and Jerusalem.
"Two weeks ago, when we met in Paris at the moving ceremony during which you parted with the country of your birth, I met entire families whose veins flow with Zionism, who are willing to leave their entire lives behind in order to realize their dream of immigrating to Israel," Lander said. "Every immigrant who arrives in Israel strengthens us as a people, and this is all the more so when it comes to the growing aliyah from France. I congratulate you on taking this meaningful step and promise that we will be at your side throughout your journey. Welcome home!"
The struggles and difficulties facing modern Israel have not deterred immigration. In fact, in fulfillment of biblical promises, aliyah has increased over the past several years.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 is just one of many places in Scripture foretelling God's plan for the Jewish people.
"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God."
Rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda have undoubtedly contributed to many families' decisions to leave the countries where some have lived for generations. Many have realized that the modern nation-state of Israel is the best place to raise and educate their children -- a place the whole family can call home.
But aliyah is far more. It's the fulfillment of God's promise to bring the Jews back to their ancient homeland where "…you shall be my people, and I will be your God."
It doesn't get much better than that, at least not in this world.