Special Reports

Remembering the Holocaust with survivors at the Haifa Home

On January 27, the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day—held each year on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945. One of the best ways to honor the six million victims of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people is to care for those who survived, which is what the ICEJ does at our Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa.

The ICEJ has a team of dedicated Christian volunteers serving and comforting the elderly residents living in our Home for Holocaust survivors. This time of the coronavirus pandemic has been especially difficult for our aging residents. As Israel has experienced three long lockdown periods, the isolation and lack of freedom to meet with family, friends and each other has been the most difficult aspect over the last year. This has impacted many both mentally and physically. But renewed hope rolled in as 2021 began!

New Hope

Although Israel is currently in another lockdown, there are flickers of hope for protecting those in high-risk groups like the elderly, thanks to a fast-paced vaccination drive now underway. For residents in the Haifa Home, the idea of life returning to normal is certainly a comforting thought. Most of our residents have received their first and some even their second shot of the vaccine. By the end of January, the majority will be protected. And during February, we hope to open the community dining hall again, so the survivors can eat together, socialize, and feel alive again! That is a day that we are all so looking forward to!

Celebrating the Many Years

Meantime, birthdays do not go unobserved! Yaacov, originally from Poland, has been living at the Home since 2012 and just celebrated his 97th birthday! Although his birthday party was in the corona ‘complete-lockdown’ style, there was good reason to celebrate. In the past three years, Yaacov has had a live-in caregiver, who takes great care of him. He still walks every day and is grateful for the life he has at our assisted-living facility. Once he said: “It was a good idea to make Aliyah and come to Israel in 1948, but it was the best decision to move to the Haifa Home. It’s like a family here!”

Snippet of a Conversation

That feeling of family expressed by Yaacov is shared by many other residents. One of the ICEJ volunteers, Kerstin, cleans their apartments, accompanies residents on their visits to the doctor and dentist, and helps wherever she is needed. She recently recalled a conversation with Judith on their recent trip to the doctor. Judith is a 92-year-old survivor from Auschwitz and here is a snippet of their sweet conversation:

Kerstin: “Judith, you are looking so beautiful again today. I especially like your scarf.”

Judith: “Really, do you know how old that scarf already is? For sure 20 or 30 years!”

Kerstin: “Wow, Judith, then is that scarf even older than I am?”

Judith: “It was given as a present from my friend. We were the same age, but she passed away already. All my friends have died. I am the only one remaining, but I am not alone. I have you and you are always there whenever I need you.”

Mania’s Poem

So many of these tender interactions are experienced daily at the Haifa Home. Mania is an 87 year-old survivor from Bessarabia who became an artist and writer. Although this time of corona has been extremely difficult and lonely for her, she tries to keep herself busy by being creative. “We need to create and keep our minds busy and not sit passively behind a TV, which only depresses us”, she tells the others. An avid painter, she has now taught herself to paint on the computer. Every day, she draws a new picture and writes a poem with it. She was excited to share her latest poem:

Nostalgia
The school opposite my home
Watching children play outside my window.
Whose only worries are
To play, do homework and study
At my old age
I long again for those days…
(Translated from Hebrew)

We Remember

On January 27 it was 76 years since Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated by the Russian Red Army. Like every year on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we conducted a ceremony at the memorial flame of the Home. Usually, hundreds of people fill the street, and many dignitaries come to address the people. However, due to the strict lockdown rules this year, it was a very small ceremony. With only a few Survivors, photographers, and media, the ceremony was opened as Shalom S. (96) and Judith H. (92), both Survivors of Auschwitz, lit the memorial flame. After a rabbi sang prayers, ICEJ staff member Yudit Setz told the gathering:

“Unfortunately, we cannot say that 76 years after the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau, anti-Semitism has disappeared. Therefore, these ceremonies to remember are important, but the eloquent words being spoken are useless if they do not go together with action. . . . Together with Yad Ezer l’Haver, we are working shoulder to shoulder to care for Holocaust Survivors in the last stages of their life. Jews and Christians together. This Home itself is a symbol of hope 76 years later.”
 
Indeed, it is a great privilege for the Christian Embassy to care for these precious people for as long as they are still with us. Your support goes a long way in helping us do so.  
 

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Keeping Passover Amid the Corona Pandemic

Passover is the most important festival on the Jewish calendar. Usually, families and friends gather on the eve of this biblical holiday to enjoy a special Seder meal together, while recounting the story of how Moses led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt.

Each year the ICEJ receives many requests to help disadvantaged Jewish families celebrate the Passover according to tradition. This year, as the harsh economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic linger, the need is greater than ever.

The corona crisis has pushed thousands of Israeli families into hardship and poverty. Suddenly, thousands of working-class families have seen their jobs disappear or salaries cut, while young and single-parent families also are struggling to stay afloat. According to the latest grim figures, three in 10 Israelis live in poverty and 20% of the population is unemployed – meaning one million Israelis are now looking for work. As a result, social workers have seen a 50% increase in requests for assistance this Passover.

Preparations are already underway for this year’s Passover celebration, which begins on the evening of 27 March. Working together with the social workers in cities and towns across Israel, the ICEJ will be delivering gift baskets that include groceries, food vouchers, and kitchen items so that families have all they need to enjoy the Passover Seder meal.

In addition to these gift packages, the ICEJ plans to fund several large community Seder meals, should health rules at that time allow for such gatherings.

Please join us in helping Israeli families in need, to celebrate the Passover festival with dignity. Through your giving, we can provide a deserving Jewish family with a Passover gift basket for $150.
 

An Ethiopian Jewish Family finally made whole in Israel

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem continues to actively support the remarkable wave of Aliyah happening right now, despite all the coronavirus-related travel bans. Even though Ben Gurion Airport has been shut down to commercial flights for weeks, we have still sponsored special evacuation flights for 557 Jewish immigrants to Israel in the first two months of 2021. This includes 100 Russian Jews who arrived from Moscow and 50 French Jews who came from Paris just within the past 48 hours, as well as our largest ICEJ-chartered Aliyah flight in over twenty years which landed earlier this month.

That recent banner flight was part of the Israeli government’s ongoing “Operation Rock of Israel” airlift, which aims to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. The ICEJ has flown over 400 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel so far this year – despite the recent closure of the country’s main airport.

For many of these Ethiopian olim (newcomers), their Aliyah journey has taken several decades, with most of that time spent in harsh living conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa awaiting their turn to board a flight to the Promised Land. Those conditions have only worsened over the past year due to intense famine, a civil war, locust swarms, and the corona pandemic, not to mention the long separation from loved ones and delayed dreams of finally reaching the Land of Israel. Each new flight brings dozens of very touching life stories of individuals and families, and we are delighted to share some of them with you.

Amane Bitao, along with his wife and three children, were among the 302 Ethiopian Jews who arrived on a specially chartered Aliyah flight sponsored by the ICEJ on 12 February. His arrival in Israel marked the complete reunification of his entire family after 11 years of separation. Today is a very remarkable day for them – the final day of his quarantine – after which the whole family, including mother, three sisters and two brothers, will finally be able to celebrate their reunion in the Land of Israel.

Almost two decades have passed since the Bitao family decided to make the journey home to Israel. The first ones who managed to reach Israel were two sisters that made Aliyah with their husbands and children 11 years ago, settling in Petah Tikvah. That left the mother and three siblings still in Ethiopia. Eight years later, mom was granted permission to immigrate to Israel. But the three remaining siblings – sister Tedfaletz and brothers Shigao and Amane – were left with their families in Gondar, clinging to hope of coming one day. The Bitao family was torn apart and longed to be made whole again.

Tedfaletz describes the difficulties of living in the Gondar transit camps. The Jewish families there have all experienced abuse from Ethiopian landlords who charge them exorbitant rents to live in hovels without running water and electricity.

But the Bitao family is truly a testimony of God's faithfulness. Tedfalech and Shigao, together with their families, finally received approval to make Aliyah in early January. However, their joy was overshadowed by worries that their older brother Amane could not join them and would have to wait for the next flight. A few days after arriving, they then learned of the closure of Ben Gurion airport and feared for their brother, especially since he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service days in the Ethiopian army.

After weeks of anxious waiting, exciting news came that a specially chartered flight arranged by Israeli and Jewish Agency officials and sponsored by the Christian Embassy would be granted an exception to land at Ben Gurion due to their dire circumstances. Among the 302 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants on board were Amane and his wife and children. It was a moment of great joy for the whole family to finally make it to the Jewish homeland after so many years of separation.

We invite you to partner with us as we continue to bring God's people back to Israel from the four corners of the earth. This is your chance to be a part of history, to fulfill biblical prophecy, and to change the lives of these Jewish families forever.

Give your best gift today to support the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!

 

ICEJ Brings 300 Ethiopian Jews to Israel Despite Airport Closure

Although Ben-Gurion Airport is currently shut down for the first time since Israel’s founding in 1948, a specially chartered flight sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was allowed to bring 302 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants home to Israel early Friday morning in the latest phase of the ‘Operation Rock of Israel’ airlift. This was the ICEJ’s largest fully chartered Aliyah flight in over two decades, and it came under exceptional circumstances.

Israel’s main airport has been completely closed for weeks to prevent the entry of a new variant of the coronavirus which might undermine the government’s ambitious mass vaccination efforts. However, a special exceptions committee gave permission this week for the group of Ethiopian immigrants to come from Addis Ababa and land at Ben-Gurion.

All the Ethiopian newcomers were required to first pass corona tests and will now quarantine for two weeks in Israel. They took the tests in Gondar this week and then loaded onto buses for the 12-hour ride to Addis Ababa, before boarding a plane for the four-hour flight to Israel.

One of the new arrivals was a six year-old boy in need of emergency heart surgery. He was quickly taken from the plane to a Tel Aviv hospital. (Please be praying for little Benjamin.)

The ICEJ-chartered flight is part of an Israeli emergency airlift launched in early December which aims to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews from a country battered by drought, locust swarms, economic hardship, coronavirus, and tribal warfare. The Christian Embassy has now sponsored flights for over 500 of these newest Ethiopian arrivals coming as part of the ‘Rock of Israel’ operation.

“This is a difficult time for everyone, but we are so grateful that these Ethiopian immigrants were granted special permission to make the journey home to Israel last night”, said ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler. “They have endured very tough conditions in Gondar and were expecting to come to Israel any day now, only to see their hopes dashed by the recent airport closure. But now their dreams have come true of finally reuniting with their families in the Promised Land. And we also have many Christians worldwide to thank for making this flight possible.”

The Israeli cabinet decided in 2015 to bring home the last remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, who have been living in poor conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, some waiting there for up to 20 years to make Aliyah. The Christian Embassy has now sponsored Aliyah flights for over 2,700 Ethiopian Jews who have arrived in Israel since then, but the immigration process has been slow and the challenges to those left behind are mounting.

Israeli authorities have responded with the current airlift of 2,000 immigrants. There are still approximately 7,500 members of the Jewish community remaining in Ethiopia, and Aliyah Minister Tamano-Shata, together with Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, are spearheading the effort to bring all those eligible for entry to Israel over the next couple years, and finally close down the transit camps.

A Special Passenger on an Exceptional Flight

Last Friday, a specially chartered flight sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem landed at Ben-Gurion Airport with 302 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants on board. Not only was it the ICEJ’s largest chartered Aliyah flight in over two decades, and not only did it arrive despite Ben-Gurion Airport being completely closed due to coronavirus. But this exceptional flight also brought a special young passenger in need of urgent heart surgery in Israel.

With the Aliyah flight on 12 February, the ICEJ has now sponsored flights for 502 Ethiopian olim (newcomers) since early December as part of the Israeli government’s “Operation Rock of Israel” airlift, which aims to bring 2,000 Ethiopian Jews home to Israel. To date, 1,572 Ethiopian Jews have arrived in this emergency airlift, with nearly one-third of them sponsored by the ICEJ.

Last Friday’s flight was our largest chartered planeload of new immigrants to Israel since the massive influx of Soviet Jews in the 1990s. And despite the fact that Ben-Gurion Airport had been shut down for over two weeks due to the coronavirus, this flight from Addis Ababa was permitted to land. On board were over 300 new immigrants eager to reunite with their families and begin their new life in Israel. Yet one special passenger was especially fortunate to be on board – a young Ethiopian boy who is hoping that heart surgeons in Israel can save his life.

Six-year-old Benjamin was born with a heart defect. There is a hole in the partition between two chambers of his heart. This defect can only be treated by an operation in a country with modern medical services. Unfortunately, Benjamin’s family has been living in a run-down transit camp in Gondar, Ethiopia for some ten years now waiting to make Aliyah to Israel, and they did not have access to the medical technology there. But after Dr. Maurice Hartstein, an Israeli surgeon at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, examined the boy during one of his trips to the transit camp, he described Benjamin as “a ticking time bomb” and started pressing for him to be brought to Israel for surgery.

Because of Benjamin’s worsening heart condition, he was given special permission to come to Israel for medical care as a special humanitarian case. He was scheduled to arrive in Israel for surgery in January, but then Ben-Gurion Airport was closed down and the operation had to be canceled.

Yet soon after, the Jewish Agency for Israel was able to make special arrangements with the exceptions committee overseeing the airport for a charter flight bringing 300 Ethiopian Jews and sponsored by the ICEJ to land at Ben-Gurion. With help from the Save a Child’s Heart organization, Benjamin was allowed to board the flight. However, the situation was complicated because Benjamin's mother had no time to complete her own Aliyah eligibility process so she could come with him.

Despite all these difficulties, Benjamin arrived on the ICEJ-sponsored flight last Friday, accompanied by a very caring Jewish Agency representative, Shira Aman, serving as his temporary guardian. Shira made Aliyah from Ethiopia to Israel herself at age six as part of Operation Solomon. She remembers that experience quite well and helping another six-year-old in this way is completing a circle for her.

Today, Benjamin is staying at the Assaf Harofeh hospital children’s home in Holon, awaiting surgery once his quarantine period is over. Shira Aman has been at his side the whole time, giving up time with her own children to see Benjamin through this journey.

Benjamin is undergoing initial examinations which will enable doctors to determine an appropriate treatment and the next steps towards his full recovery. Please keep Benjamin and his family in prayer.

Hopefully, Benjamin’s mother will soon be able to join him in Israel. Indeed, there are many more Ethiopian Jews still waiting in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa for their chance to finally reach the Land of Israel and reunite with their families here. Please consider a generous donation to help them, as well as many other Jewish families in other nations worldwide who are hoping to make Aliyah to Israel this year.
 

Give today at: on.icej.org/aliyah 


 

Perfect timing!

As Israel slowly emerges out from its third major corona lockdown and school bells ring once again for classes to re-open this week, the city of Ashkelon’s security chief together with parents and the youth who attend the Ashkelon High School of Advanced Science and Torah Studies can gasp a sigh of relief!

Ashkelon is an Israeli coastal city situated within close range of terrorist rocket fire from Gaza. “On the one hand, this school responded to our commitment to promote excellence in our students. These are tomorrow’s innovators of science and technology. On the other hand, we have a very serious threat from nearby Gaza. We have 30 seconds to get to a shelter. That’s it,” noted local security chief Elan Gozlker.

At the beginning of the school year, the new Ashkelon High School of Advanced Science and Torah Studies desperately needed four bomb shelters to protect their students. School principal Esther Day explained: “The Sciences High School consists of several prefabricated portable rooms that were placed here at the start of the school year. These classrooms did not have any protection from rocket attacks whatsoever, and the parents and students were very worried.”

As the school year began, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was able to help towards this need by providing two portable bomb-shelters, made possible through Christian donor support from Switzerland. However, knowing that these shelters were insufficient to protect all their children, anxious parents placed pressure on the school, as well as the security department, to bring in the two additional shelters.

“We knew our initial gift only partially met the need and the school was in danger of closing down classes if additional shelters weren’t brought in soon,” noted Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah. “However, a few weeks after schools opened in the fall, the second lockdown temporarily closed them again, giving us a bit more time to close the gap. We were so excited when we received two additional generous donor gifts from Switzerland that enabled us to finish the project.”

With these gifts, the ICEJ was able to fulfill the school’s larger need for four bomb-shelters. Despite intermittent lockdowns, work continued with making the bomb-shelters at the factory. Much excitement filled the air as the delivery truck with the additional two shelters arrived to place them in their permanent home two weeks ago, perfectly timed for the re-opening of school!

Watching in anticipation as the shelters were meticulously hoisted from the truck and lowered to the ground, Elan Gozlker, shared his feelings as the one in charge of security for the area schools.

“What these shelters have done is give us security,” he assured. “We are so grateful. Thank you. We love you!”

“Now that we have these shelters, it will help the kids to feel safe and comfortable here,” added the principal, Esti Day. “Thank you so much for your donation. We appreciate it very much.”

“Now the students can study with peace-of-mind, not to mention the teachers, who now know that should the alarm sound during the day, they and their students know where they can find shelter” said Nicole Yoder.

The need for bomb shelters in both southern and northern Israel is immense. The State Comptroller of Israel released a report in August 2020 which revealed alarming statistics that 2.6 million Israelis do not have access to functional bomb shelters. About 30% of Israelis do not have functioning bomb shelters near their homes, including over 250,000 civilians who live near the Gaza and Lebanese borders, areas under the highest threat of rocket attack.

The ICEJ is committed to continuing our aid to bring safety and security to these vulnerable border communities. Through your generous giving, we can continue to bring peace-of-mind to Israelis living under the constant risk of rocket fire. 

Please give at: icej.org/crisis

ICEJ salute to Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem wishes to salute Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda, the outgoing Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem, as he heads into retirement. Shaya has left a significant mark at Yad Vashem by helping to shape that revered institution into a globally renown, state-of-the-art museum and research center here in Jerusalem. He helped to educate millions about the Holocaust by recognizing and giving a name and memory to the over six million victims who perished during the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.

Countless Jews and Christians as well have visited Yad Vashem and left with the commitment “Never Again!” Shaya’s vision and efforts helped Yad Vashem to reach out to many non-Jewish communities around the world. His contributions were in many ways historic, as he personally led the effort to reach out to the global Evangelical community and to establish the ‘Christian Desk’ at Yad Vashem. Since Christians were among the greatest perpetrators of the Holocaust, this represented a particularly bold step for Yad Vashem that eventually also found the approval of Israel’s president and prime minister.

Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda found an equally visionary partner in this regard in Rev. Malcolm Hedding, then-Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Together, they formed a partnership which led to the establishment of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. Through its work until today, countless Christians and in particular pastors have learned about the Holocaust, met survivors of the Shoah, and were empowered to fight antisemitism and anti-Israelism around the globe.

“The warmth and friendship which Shaya Ben Yehuda demonstrated towards Christians from around the world makes him an unforgettable bridge-builder and pioneer in Jewish-Christian relations,” said Malcolm Hedding, who worked closely with Ben Yehuda for many years. “Shaya’s insights into biblical truth also helped Christians from many countries to understand their Bible better and especially the Jewish context in which it was written. Shaya will always be remembered as a remarkable educator and scholar.”

“Because of Shaya, today the ICEJ and countless Christians from around the world have become better friends and allies of Israel and have been better educated about their own history,” said Dr Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ President. “For this and for Shaya’s uncompromising friendship, the ICEJ will always look back with gratitude on his bold, pioneering leadership at Yad Vashem.”

On behalf of our branches and representatives in over 90 nations, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem expresses our thanks to Shaya Ben Yehuda for the outstanding direction he gave to the International Relations Division for over twenty years, and for expanding its work to include Christian participation in Yad Vashem’s many important activities. We wish him the best and God’s blessings on all his future endeavours.

The ICEJ also wholeheartedly welcomes Dr Haim Gertner in his role as the new Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem and wishes him all success. We very much look forward to a close relationship with him and his staff in the years to come.


 

ICEJ welcomes Ethiopian Jews arriving in urgent airlift

Last Friday, an ICEJ team was waiting at Ben-Gurion Airport to welcome a flight of 116 Ethiopian Jews arriving on an Aliyah flight sponsored by the Christian Embassy. It was a moving moment as they kneeled down to kiss the ground of the Promised Land, ending decades and even generations of longing to reach the Jewish homeland.

The new arrivals were part of a group of 432 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants who landed last week in the first phase of “Operation Rock of Israel”, a special airlift being carried out by Israel and the Jewish Agency to bring home 2,000 Ethiopian Jews by the end of January. The ICEJ is supporting this Aliyah operation as worsening conditions in Ethiopia have given new urgency to bringing home the last remnant of this ancient Jewish community.

The Israeli cabinet committed in 2015 to bring home the final remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, who have been living in poor conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, some waiting there for up to 20 years to make Aliyah. The Christian Embassy has sponsored Aliyah flights for over 2,300 Ethiopian Jews who have arrived in Israel since then, including 384 olim this year – despite the Corona travel bans. But the immigration process has been slow and the challenges to those left behind are mounting.

There are still approximately 7-8,000 members of the community remaining in Ethiopia, which has been suffering under a prolonged drought, while a massive plague of locust also has hit East Africa over the past year. As a result, food supplies are running short and prices are spiraling upward. Many Jews in the transit camps are malnourished, especially children. And Ethiopia is now facing the spread of coronavirus. Add to this an armed rebellion which erupted in early November in the breakaway province of Tigray, just 45 miles across the border from the Gondar transit camps, and the situation has become quite worrisome.

So this airlift operation comes at a critical moment for those Ethiopian Jews still living in the transit camps of Gondar and Addis Ababa. Israel has decided to bring them home to Israel, and it is a privilege for the ICEJ to support this historic and humanitarian effort to reunite Ethiopian families and fulfill the dreams of many generations to finally reach the Jewish homeland.

The opportunity is here to help bring home several thousand more Ethiopian Jews who are desperate to reach Israel. It is time for us to act!

Please consider a generous donation to help these very deserving people re-join their families in the Jewish homeland. May the Lord bless you richly as you donate towards this very urgent and worthy cause!

DONATE TODAY!

  

Marking 25 Years of Homecare

There is an excitement in the air, with much reason to celebrate!

Twenty-five years ago, the ICEJ’s Homecare program for Russian Jewish immigrants was launched when nurse Corrie Van Maanen joined the staff in Jerusalem. Corrie says that “numerous Russian immigrants have been helped during the years ever since”. Indeed, the Homecare program is still going strong, displaying a practical demonstration of love. Many deserving people receive help, nursing care, and a dose of hope and encouragement with each visit of the Homecare team. Your faithful support throughout the years makes this possible.

For the past 18 years, Homecare has built a precious relationship with a family whose daughter is dependent on full-time care. The parents, who suffered during the Second World War, have looked after their daughter with such love and dedication – as only a parent can do. But they are both 80 years old now. Seeing this need, Homecare respectfully came alongside the family over the years to help them in a practical way, giving nursing care to their daughter. Recently, the mother said: “So much can go wrong during the week but when you come, we know that everything will be all right and we are able to continue into a new week.” With the tender relationship built over the years, the regular visits become a weekly highlight for them. The mother sighs when the visit ends, saying “Oy, if I didn’t have you!”

For another lady who made Aliyah from the Ukraine together with her husband, and sick and fragile parents in the 1990s, the Homecare visits have been so appreciated. Homecare got to know her when asked to lovingly take care of her sick father. Later, both she and her husband became sick and then he passed away. Now as a widow and living alone, she sat on her bed recently and expressed her gratitude, saying: “I have no words to thank you. We have known each other for more than twenty years. And when my need is the biggest, when I have no answer for my trouble, you have always been there for me and helping me out.” The Homecare team just helped to pack up her home as she had to move to another apartment.

A warm bond also can be seen between Homecare and an elderly gentleman in his 90s who is blind. Nearing the end of a Homecare visit just a few weeks ago, he sat at his kitchen table and leaned forward to ensure his words would not be missed. “Do you know why I am waiting for you to visit me every week?” he asked. While waiting for him to answer his own question, he continued, “because you are willing to listen when I tell you my stories.” Shortly after the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, this same gentleman said, “I listened to the special program on television for the remembrance of the Holocaust. But no television can ever tell or show what I saw as an eyewitness in the darkness of the war.” He often talks about that dark time and is still suffering severely from the war, more than seventy-five years later. Every week, the ICEJ Homecare team buy groceries from him, as he cannot make ends meet on his small pension. He is so thankful that he lives in Israel, adding that “it gave me life”.

These are only a few examples of the work of Homecare, as our team encourages, brings hope, and gives joy to all they care for. For many, the Homecare visit is the highlight of their week, especially during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, when isolation, loneliness and depression are extremely tough for the elderly and those who suffered during the Second World War.

The source of our caring is limitless, as it is the love of the God of Israel Who has commanded us believers from the nations to “comfort His people Israel.” We do it with thankfulness for the privilege it is. Thank you for the past twenty-five years.

We invite you to continue to partner in this precious work of ICEJ Homecare.

 

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Preparing for a Surge in Aliyah

Over the past forty years, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been privileged to bring home to Israel more than 160,000 Jewish immigrants from around the world, usually in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. This includes the 3,141 Jews we assisted with Aliyah last year, despite all the coronavirus lockdowns and travel bans. So, what can we expect in the months and years ahead?

Like other Israeli officials, JAFI chairman Isaac Herzog is very upbeat about the prospects for Jewish return to Israel in the near future. At the ICEJ’s Envision Conference last week, he forecast that up to 250,000 Jewish immigrants will arrive in Israel within the next 3-to-5 years. This surge in Aliyah is being triggered by several factors, including the corona threat, the way Israel has responded effectively to it, the spike in corona-related antisemitism, and the way many have discovered they can work from home and even remotely from a distant land. As a result, Herzog said most of the expected 250,000 new arrivals will be young adults with so-called ‘free professions’.

Herzog explained that last year there was a dramatic rise in the number of Jewish families who inquired with JAFI about immigration to Israel, with 90,000 calls coming in from around the world, including many from the West. This has led to the opening of some 25,000 new immigration files, with a 91% increase from Western countries, including a 400% jump from North America. Herzog added that the number of people who have contacted the Jewish Agency about Aliyah from English-speaking countries has increased by 50%, and by 70% from French-speaking countries.

“Undoubtedly, we are fulfilling biblical prophecy and the Christian world has a major role to play in bringing about the fulfillment of these prophecies”, Herzog told hundreds of pastors attending Envision online. “We are grateful to Christians who support the idea of bringing Jewish people back to their ancient homeland. And I again want to thank the International Christian Embassy for the outstanding work you are doing to help with this.”

Danielle Mor, who oversees JAFI’s outreach to Christians, recently expressed her thanks as well, telling ICEJ Aliyah coordinator Howard Flower: “It is remarkable that we could bring such a large number of immigrants in a time of closed borders, almost a standstill in dozens of government offices around the world, the cancellation of thousands of flights, and so many other hardships. ICEJ played a major part in this and for that, as always, we thank you.”

So which countries will all these expected Jewish immigrants come from? The world’s Jewish population currently is estimated at 14.7 million. Israel is now home to over 45% of these Jews, while 90% of the remaining Jewish communities outside of Israel reside in Western countries – including the Americas, Europe, and the Commonwealth nations (Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.).

  

JAFI has specific partners assisting with Aliyah in various regions of the world, and in recent years they have looked to the Christian Embassy for help with Jewish families returning from the former Soviet republics, eastern and western Europe, Ethiopia, and at times from Latin America. The ICEJ also has been helping to bring the Bnei Menashe tribe from India and the Kaifeng Jews from China. All of these Aliyah routes remain open for us in the year ahead.

So far in 2021, we have sponsored flights for 100 Ethiopian Jews who arrived in Israel on New Year’s Day. We are now poised to bring another 200-to-300 Ethiopian Jews as soon as Ben-Gurion Airport is re-opened. The airport has been temporarily shut down – for the first time since Israel’s founding in 1948 – due to concerns that one of the new variants of the coronavirus would enter the country and undermine the government’s ambitious efforts to mass vaccinate the entire population by April. But as soon as the airport reopens, hopefully next week, we can expect that flight from Addis Ababa. That would mean the ICEJ will have sponsored flights for 500 of the 2,000 Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel over recent months as part of “Operation Rock of Israel.”

With your help, the Christian Embassy will continue to play a central role in the historic and prophetic Ingathering of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland in the months and years ahead. A new surge of Aliyah is on the way, so please give generously to support the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts in 2021.
 

Donate today at: on.icej.org/aliyah