I had heard that "Making Aaliyah" is informally used to mean anyone going to Israel (not necessarily moving there, and not necessarily Jewish) for religious reasons. I was more recently informed that "While some may use it in that manner, it is not correct terminology. An observant Jew would never do so." Can anyone elaborate on this, and why this was apparently offensive? Also, why would the "observant Jew" part mean anything, wasn't it used historically just as the definition of the word "ascent" and not originally meaning immigration to Israel by one of Jewish descent?

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    I've never heard of someone using the term `aliyah to not mean permanent immigration to Israel.
    – Argon
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 12:14
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    עשרה יוחסים עלו מבבל. Mishna kidushin 4, 1
    – kouty
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 12:55
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    – mbloch
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 13:01
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    Making alyah is only used for someone moving to Israel to immigrate and stay there, whether or not he is observant and whether or not he immigrates for religious reasons. Observant Jews use this terminology as well. There is nothing offensive there. Originally it was used in the context of alyah laregel, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem during holidays, which by definition was a religious alyah
    – mbloch
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


"Making Aliyah" is the phrase used for someone moving to Eretz Yisrael permanently. "Having an Aliyah" is used for someone being called to the Torah. We say on the yahtzeit (anniversary of a person's death" that the neshama (soul) should "have an aliyah" [rise in (spiritual) status]. In fact, someone leaving Eretz Yisrael is said to be making a yeridah (going down).

We see the usages of the term in a number of places (both religious and secular) such as

Why Make Aliyah - aish.com, Nefesh B'Nefesh, and Jewish Agency

As an example of the usage we see

What Does Aliyah Mean?

The term aliyah, going up to Israel, is used in Genesis in reference to our forefather Jacob’s bones being brought from Egypt to what would be the Land of Israel: “And Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.”1

The Talmudic sages state that the Land of Israel is higher than all other lands.2 This is not meant in a topographical sense, for clearly this is not the case. Rather, it means that the Holy Land is the most suitable place to relate and connect to the Almighty, and the primary location to lovingly engage in the observance of G‑d’s commandments. In other words, to go there is to be elevated, to go up to a higher level.

It is for this reason that anyone “making aliyah,” or moving to Israel for the right reasons, is moving “up” in the world. It is the land in which the holy Patriarchs and Matriarchs lived. It is the land upon which the Holy Temples were built. And, with the advent of the Messianic era, it is the land where the Third Temple will soon be rebuilt. It is truly a holy and elevated place.

In life, one must always strive to climb to higher and greater heights. Where appropriate, one must seek elevation, aliyah, whether in location, or even more importantly, within the personal lives, property and confines of every single individual.

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