What is meant by Aliyah and Golah?

  • These terms refer to the communities that were exiled (Golah) and then returned from exile (Aliyah).
  • Aliyah is not a period but the act of returning to Israel from exile so, technically, any time you did that it could be called Aliyah.
  • As used by Ezra/Nehemiah, Aliyah meant only the second-temple community tasked with turning from exile, rebuilding Judah,  and rededicating themselves to God. Ezra makes it clear in the course of resettling Israel that ONLY those Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon could be considered part of the new nation. Moreover, of that group, only those who could demonstrate they were part of the Golah (the community that had left Judah for Babylon in the early 6th century) counted. So you had to be exiled and returned from exile–that was part of what it meant to be Jewish.

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