The long-term goal is to eventually be able to create a community in Israel where people move into, in order to make sure our traditions and way of life continue for generations to come.”

Many community members do have Israel on their minds! In addition to loving the Jewish Homeland, many community members are considering purchasing an apartment in Israel for their future full-time residence or are thinking of buying a vacation home in Israel for when they visit. However, often people lack the proper information needed to actualize these plans. But there is good news: and a newly formed community group, Syrian-Link Israel has been doing the research you need. Their stated purpose is: Together we can build a flourishing Syrian Sephardic community in the land of Israel.

Syrian-Israel Link was created to strengthen our connection to the Holy Land together as a community, and serve as a one-stop hub for those seeking to learn more about spending time in Israel – be it in the short term, or long term.

The core team consists of community members Rabbi Moses Haber as president; Moshe Laniado, vice president; Eli Mizrahi, secretary; Ralph Sasson, treasurer; Daniel Levy, marketing and publicity; and Jack Terzi technology director.

New Buzz in the Community about Israel

“At the moment there is tremendous opportunity happening in Eres Yisrael. Our energies to promote investment in and/or support Aliya are not sourced in fear of current politics or the pandemic, rather in the historic realization that the Land of Israel is slated to be a success story for the Jewish people. This realization is surely reaching our community’s population now more than ever,” noted Rabbi Haber.

Rabbi Haber said that in the summer of 2020, more and more community members were discussing Israel. Last summer Rabbi Haber moderated an online conversation with Nefesh B’Nefesh representative Mr. Eli Bialik dubbed “Are You Thinking About Making Aliyah?” which was viewed by 150 people.

“The questions that were sent into the Zoom chat were very practical, which means there many in the community already are thinking about what it is going to take to make Aliyah, have dual citizenship, or begin investing in land or apartments” Rabbi Haber said, noting also that many reached out to him afterward for more information.

Syrian-Israel Link – Source of Vital Information

Soon after, Rabbi Haber sought to spearhead an official group that would help focus the “disjointed conversations” that people were having in the community.

“Throughout our Zoom calls during the pandemic, we really created an understanding between us that this is an essential and important thing for us to do. But we wanted to do something the right way, in an organized fashion.” said Rabbi Haber.

An apolitical non-profit organization was born.

Currently, the team is focused on gathering data from the community via a formal survey. The information collected will help SY-Israel Link present up to date and accurate information to community members in an organized way. The SY-Israel Link survey will help identify significant information about the respondents, such as their age bracket, their time frame for buying real estate or making Aliya, their projected budgets, and the locations they are considering. Nearly a hundred and fifty people have filled out the confidential online survey.

According to Moshe Laniado, information gleaned from the survey reveals that community members from different socio-economic groups are looking to make Aliyah. Additionally, the majority of people do not know where in Israel they would like to settle, or buy a home.

Direction towards Areas with Syrian Community Members

That is good news for SY-Israel Link, because it means that potential Olim are open to different locations and helping them to find a place with like-minded community members should be easier if they are all not insistent that they must move to Jerusalem. “People are looking for guidance in terms of what location would be the right fit for them,” Laniado said.

He noted that the survey also revealed that not everyone wanted to dive right in to moving. “The top responses in terms of reasons for looking to buy a home were for a security home, a retirement home, a steppingstone to making Aliyah one day, and even a vacation home.”

Rabbi Haber said the first step for community members considering Israel is education. The next step is investment guidance, with an eye towards directing community members towards existing Syrian communities in whichever location they choose.

“The long-tem goal is to eventually be able to create a community in Israel where people move into, in order to make sure our traditions and way of life continue for generations to come,” said Eli Mizrahi.

The Challenge of Maintaining Our Unique Identity

Eli Mizrahi noted that over the past twenty years or so, those from our neighborhoods who made Aliyah have found it difficult to “mimic the life they had in America, in terms of community, family, and religious values, that they cherished so much. Our goal is to develop similar community experiences in the Land of Israel one step at a time. This effort will bridge our local community’s strengths along with those of us already living in Israel.”

He continued: “We know our community is very unified, whether in communal or religious ways. When our people get to Israel, they oftentimes lose a piece of their identity. They end up getting ‘assimilated into the local society’ that exists in Israel. There is nothing essentially bad about that; it’s just that a piece of our rich heritage gets lost. What we’d like to do is to give people a path to get into Israel, where they can still find a replica of the community lifestyle that they are so used to. That can even be fueled by those who aren’t necessarily making Aliyah, via a purchase of a vacation/investment home, in an area that is already inhabited with some of our community members.”

As such, they’re looking to foster multiple geographic-specific Syrian communities in Eres Yisrael.

“One of the main things we are doing to get everyone together is identifying the areas community members are currently in, as well as identifying the areas members want to go to. That is what we think will give people the unifying sense,” noted Eli Mizrahi.

Syrian-Israel Link’s research has successfully discovered that over the last three decades at least 140 Syrian families have already purchased a home or made Aliyah in five general clusters. The families are Geo Pinned on a Google map, located on the website, without the families’ names. This map will serve as the organization’s launching pad for “Inspiring, Motivating and Unifying” the next wave of our community members who are en route to the Holy Land for any given reason.

Link Up with Trusted Professionals

Many of the board members already have experience with multiple transactions of buying and investing in the land and are eager to share that information. “They’ve made the mistakes, have gone through the process, and have learned from them,” said Rabbi Haber.

Meanwhile, the group is accumulating their own network of on-the-ground lawyers, mortgage brokers, accountants, and other professionals. “I believe at the right time we will be publishing a list of those people – people who are viable in negotiating those things on behalf of the community,” he added. The group has also connected with some members of the Knesset about the idea. “We’ve had a couple of conversations where they are waiting with open arms for us to facilitate and navigate these opportunities going forward,” said Eli Mizrahi.

In addition to the Syrian-Israel Link website, the board of directors are willing to help and offer support to those who have any questions.

If Israel is on your mind, please do your part and fill out the survey. The information you provide will help SY-Israel Link reach its goals of “Motivating, Inspiring, and Unifying” our community in the eternal Holy Land.

For more information and/or to take the survey, please visit https://www.syisraellink.com/