Exploring The Aliyah Bet: Discussion Questions
• Aliyah has different causes: Aliyah of need, ie those escaping persecution in their home country; and Aliyah by choice, those choosing to migrate for religious, ideological or nationalistic reasons. Why is Aliyah Bet a unique model for the Jewish immigration movement? Imagine the encounter between a Jew in Europe trying to escape the persecutions with a member of the Jewish Brigade – the survivors’ first contact with the yishuv (the organized Jewish community in Palestine). What do you think was their reaction?
• The sight of a soldier with a Star of David insignia on his sleeve must have been intensely moving for the survivors; it instills a sense of national pride and identification
• How was the connection to the Land of Israel different for Jews of this time period than it is today?
• Nearly 250 American volunteers assisted in the Aliyah Bet. Do you think is a large or small number? Do you think more Jews wanted to volunteer? What challenges do you think these individuals faced in joining the ha’apala effort?
• Many of the people interviewed said that their families and friends thought they were “crazy” for going there. Why do you think they were considered “crazy”?”
• Can you imagine believing in a cause so deeply that you would drop everything and leave your home to help?
• Why do you think the survivors of the Holocaust opted to take on the challenges of the journey to Palestine instead of returning to their home countries?
• Saving Jewish lives was a major reason that the volunteers’ were motivated to engage in this cause. Do you feel that this is still an issue today in which Jews worldwide should be involved? Why or why not?
• The Jews at the time had strong feelings of desire to find refuge in the Land of Israel. What can future generations of young Jews learn from this deep connection?