TORONTO — The Israel Aliyah Centre of Toronto, which is affiliated with the Jewish Agency for Israel, has become the second such centre in North America after Chicago to come under the auspices of a Jewish federation.
Ted Sokolsky, right, president of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, said that
when he became president of the federation in 2004 and saw that the
aliyah office was not in the Lipa Green Building – it was on Dufferin
Street near Finch Avenue until about two years ago – he thought that it
was a strange and unnatural separation.
“Now it is where it should be, and we are synergizing our work.”
Federation and the Diaspora have often had a “schizophrenic attitude about aliyah,” and “people get uncomfortable when prominent community members [make the move]. We all want a strong Israel, but it is almost taboo for mainstream agencies to promote aliyah,” he said.
“Aliyah is not a threat. It is part of our fabric. It has to be part of everything we do.”
Susan Steinberg, chair of the federation’s new aliyah committee, said that the vision of the six-member committee is to have people see aliyah as an obligation and understand that there are many ways to live in Israel.
“It does not have to be a permanent move – it doesn’t have to be black and white. People can go back and forth. They can work in Canada while their wife and family live in Israel. They can keep there business here. They need to be creative.”
Liane Sela, director and shlichah of the Israel Aliyah Centre in Toronto, said that aliyah is something that has to be discussed.
“Israel is getting better in every aspect, and it has more to offer [than ever before]. The aliyah centre can help make the move,” she said.
“Being part of federation means that aliyah is part of the community. We want to increase awareness about who we are, and we want to acknowledge those who are making aliyah.”