Is there any country, outside of Israel, that has a name for immigrating to that country? If there is, I’d love to know, but as far a I’m aware, Israel is the only country with an official name for immigration, for its immigrants, and also for emigration.

We call immigration to Israel “Aliya”, literally translated “going up”. It pays homage to the biblical notion of “Aliya leregel”  – literally, “going up by foot” – when the Children of Israel would go on pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem for the 3 “foot” festivals – Passover, Succot and Shavuot. Once you “make Aliya”, you become an “Oleh” – the term for immigrant. You start off as an “Oleh Chadash”, a “new immigrant” and eventually the “new” part wears off, but you will always be an “Oleh”, even if you’ve been in Israel for 50 years.

The term for emigration out of Israel is “Yerida” – literally “going down”. The exact opposite of “Aliya”. I suppose the technical term for one who has made Yerida is “yored”, but you don’t hear that term much.

I made Aliya back in 1991. After 7 years of being an Olah (the chadasha part wore off after about 2), I became a real Israeli and made Yerida.

16 years later, I’m bringing a third terminology into my life – I’m becoming a Toshav Chozer (or Toshevet Chozeret in my feminine case) – a “Returning Resident”.

Surely, given my experience with being every bit of Israeli immigration terminology, my return to the land of my people will be smooth sailing, yes?


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