- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

JERUSALEM North American Jews are immigrating to Israel in large numbers for the first time in decades, spurred by a growth in anti-Semitism and a belief that they might as well face terrorism in their ancestral homeland as in the United States.
More than 400 Jews from the United States and Canada arrived in Israel last week on board a chartered El Al jet to an emotional welcome from former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several members of the Israeli parliament.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews from the former Soviet Union have poured into Israel in recent years compared with only a trickle from North America. Last year, 1,378 American Jews emigrated to Israel, while already this year almost 1,800 have arrived. By comparison, in 1995 more than 2,500 American Jews emigrated, while in 1971 more than 8,000 made the journey.
The new arrivals are mostly young professionals their average age is 35 and while most acknowledge their strong religious or secular Zionist identity as motivating factors for moving to Israel, many said the events surrounding September 11 were the trigger.
Steven Accardi, a 42-year-old clinical psychologist, has moved with his wife Esther and their two young children to Kochav Ya'acov, a settlement of 600 families just north of Jerusalem.
What pushed him to make the move was an incident in the street on the day of the attack in New York. He was parking outside his apartment in Monsey when a young man driving past yelled out of his window: "Die."
Mr. Accardi spun his car around and caught up with the man. When he screamed at the man, the man said, "I want you people out of my country. You caused this."
Mr. Accardi said he just stood there stunned and that as he went home, he thought about what the man had said. "Two hours after thousands of people had just been killed by Arab terrorists, his first response had been, 'It's the Jews' fault,'" Mr. Accardi said.
Nissan and Rena Lifschitz, decided to move to Israel when they were married in New York three years ago.
Mr. Lifschitz said the couple's parents supported their decision to move. "We wanted to move because this is the Jewish homeland, and this is where Jews should be," he said. "We did have some apprehension because of the situation, but we felt it was important to come because the country is threatened by terrorism, and no matter what goes on, it is not going to scare us away."
September 11 was a turning point for Noa Hirsch, 22, a law student, who arrived in Israel last week. She intends to live in Jerusalem, where she will study Hebrew for five months before continuing with her law studies.
"On September 11 everything changed," she said. "I was going to a non-Jewish university, and I would get comments every day like: 'You Jews brought September 11 on us.' Never before in my life had I felt singled out as a Jew, and I had never felt so alone. So I thought to myself, where is the one place where I would feel welcome as a Jew? The answer: Israel."


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