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Special Reports

ICEJ helps sponsor special Aliyah flight of French Jews

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem helped to sponsor a special charter flight of 160 French Jewish immigrants who landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday hoping to start a new life away from the rising antisemitism in France and elsewhere.

The chartered flight was arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, and was funded by leading Jewish and Christian donor organizations, including the ICEJ, which sponsored seats for 32 of the new arrivals.

ICEJ representatives were on the tarmac to welcome the French olim, along with Israel’s minister of aliyah Pnina Tamano-Shata, MK Yair Golan, Keren HaYesod world chairman Sam Grundwerg, and JAFI’s interm chairman Yaakov Goel, among other dignitaries.

Tamano-Shata, who made aliyah herself from Ethiopia at age three, also accompanied the new immigrants on the flight from Paris after spending several days in the French capital with government officials and Jewish community leaders to assess the current situation for French Jewry.

France is still home to the second largest Jewish community outside of Israel (after the United States), with an estimated 500,000 members. However, another 250,000 have already left the country over the past two decades due to the rising threat of violent antisemitism, especially from radicalized Muslims transplanted from North Africa to crowded neighborhoods in Paris, Marseilles and other large French cities. Some Jewish émigrés have opted to join the growing enclaves of French Jews in Canada, Australia or the US, but a rising number have chosen Israel as a safer location for them, including from the coronavirus threat.

Aliyah from France to Israel has remained fairly strong and stable over recent years despite the corona travel bans, and it is now expected to pick up even more as French Jews see Israel as having better job opportunities and a better record on handling the COVID-19 menace. French Aliyah is up 137 percent in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, while the number of Aliyah applications has quadrupled over the past year.

The Christian Embassy also will be sponsoring Aliyah flights over the next few weeks for about 30 American Jews making the move to Israel. This will bring the total number of Jews brought by the ICEJ on Aliyah flights to Israel this year to over 1,220 from 17 countries, plus another 700 newcomers assisted via pre-Aliyah programs.

Meanwhile, the ICEJ is preparing to fund Aliyah flights for several hundred more Jews in coming months, including large groups expected from Ethiopia and India. But we need your help! So please continue to support the Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ.
 

 

Giving Hope to the Struggling Side of the Start-Up Nation

Over recent decades, Israel has gained a well-deserved reputation as the ‘Start-Up Nation’. Israel’s bustling hi-tech industry has seen phenomenal growth due to the innovative spirit driving the business, biomedical, cyber and security sectors. In one of the latest signs of the nation’s hi-tech prowess, Israel now has 65 ‘unicorns’ – defined as privately-held companies valued at over US$1 billion – which is more than all of Europe combined.

Given this remarkable record, it is no wonder that eleven years ago Israel was accepted into the select club of the world’s most developed nations – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Israelis were quite proud of that accomplishment, but they also know that their nation’s true economic picture is not as rosy as it appears.

For instance, Israel has one of the largest income equality gaps between rich and poor of any OECD nation. The hi-tech industry indeed is thriving, but it only accounts for 8% of the work force. For the other 92%, well over half are employed in the nation’s ‘second economy’ – a lagging domestic market of low-paying, low-skilled, often temporary jobs with little growth potential.

Many of those stuck in this shadow economy are from large Arab and ultra-Orthodox Jewish families located in crowded urban neighborhoods. Others live in development towns in the northern and southern periphery of the country. They often do not make enough money to even owe income taxes, which means that the other half of Israel’s work force is bearing the nation’s tax burden.

This was all before the Corona lockdowns drove unemployment rates to over 20% during the past year. At the same time, the political paralysis of four indecisive national elections also froze the annual state budgeting process which would have allowed the government to address these worrisome trends.

And now, the State Comptroller has just assessed that nearly 70% of Israel’s labor force – some 2.7 million workers – must be retrained and reskilled in the next few years to remain employable in the emerging automated economy of the future.

So despite Israel’s economic success, there are still many struggling families in the Start-Up Nation who need our help, and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is working on practical and effective ways to assist them. Through our “Giving a Future and a Hope” program, we are helping disadvantaged Israeli families reach for a brighter future.

The ICEJ has identified several clear, simple ways we can be of great assistance to many poor Israeli families. For starters, we are sponsoring job training and skills development programs for low-income earners who are seeking to keep up with the rest of the nation in a fast-changing world. Various studies have shown this can be accomplished by either “up-skilling” or “re-skilling”.

One of our new initiatives will provide special training in code writing as well as job placement services to 60 Israeli Arabs aspiring to work in the hi-tech arena. Many young Arab professionals are eager to enter the Israeli hi-tech industry, and companies are looking to hire them. But they lag in certain key computer skills largely due to cultural gaps and thus only 3% of Israel’s hi-tech workforce is Arab. By supporting this program, we will be helping Arab hi-tech talents find their place in leading Israeli companies, while also fostering coexistence in Israel.

The ICEJ also has been providing hope and assistance to many Jewish immigrants struggling to adjust to life in Israel. This includes sponsoring a special mentoring program that is helping many distressed immigrant families from Latin America and the former Soviet republics. We also have invested in many Ethiopian Jewish students at all levels of schooling, from supplying computers for needy children in grade school to providing scholarships and stipends for promising young Ethiopian professionals pursuing university degrees.

Another key area of assistance is our efforts to provide computers to children from low-income families. The corona crisis has accelerated the move to remote online learning at home, yet some 20% of Israeli children lack computers and even internet connections in their homes. This has put them at a serious disadvantage compared to their peers. So, the ICEJ will be increasing our recent efforts to provide affordable laptop computers to children from poor Israeli families.

There are many other ways in which the ICEJ’s “Future & Hope” program is impacting the lives of needy Israelis. We are strengthening less-fortunate Israeli families, offering them educational and economic empowerment, lifting children from broken homes and youths at risk, assisting struggling new immigrants and minority communities, and promoting coexistence among all segments of Israeli society.

Through our “Giving Hope” outreach, you can help make a difference for many poor and disadvantaged families in Israel, so that they too can begin to enjoy the promise which this nation holds.

Please respond by giving your best gift today.

 

ICEJ Sponsoring Front-Line Relief and Aliyah Flights Amid Israel Crisis!

The latest Hamas rocket war against Israel appears to be winding down with a very fragile unwritten ceasefire on Friday, but the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will continue to reach out with urgent relief efforts to the embattled Israeli front-line communities along the Gaza border area, while also getting ready to sponsor Aliyah flights for dozens of Jewish immigrants expected to arrive next week. This is amazing news – not even this raging conflict was able to stop the Aliyah!

Over recent days, the ICEJ has been pressing ahead with a series of emergency relief efforts aimed primarily at assisting the hardest-hit communities closest to the Gaza border area. This has included the following:

Bomb Shelters: The ICEJ has ordered 15 new portable bomb shelters for front-line towns and villages on the Gaza and northern borders. And thanks to the generous response of Christian donors to our urgent appeal this week, we hope to have funds soon for at least five more bomb shelters.

Protective Vests: We will be delivering 45 new bullet-proof vests to security and first-responder teams in the Gaza periphery, who were already in 24/7 emergency mode over two weeks ago – ever since Palestinian terror militias in Gaza first started dozens of wildfires in their region with incendiary balloons in early May.

Trauma Relief: The Christian Embassy will be working with trauma resilience centers and counselors nearest the Gaza border to help Israeli families with children recover from the harrowing experience of being stuck in bomb shelters amid intense rocket barrages over the past eleven days. Similar stress relief efforts will be provided to dozens of children from recent Jewish immigrant families who have been living in absorption centers under fire.

Social Relief: Working with local social workers, we will be providing food or other basic needs for families in dire need in the worst-hit areas.

In addition – and this is quite remarkable given the intense fighting – the ICEJ will be assisting with Aliyah flights for at least 200 of the hundreds of new Jewish immigrants from more than 20 nations expected to land in Israel over coming days.

We will be covering the flight and other transportation costs for 99 members of the Bnei Menashe community who have been approved to come under an emergency decision of the Israeli government due to the coronavirus surge in India. The decision will allow 548 Bnei Menashe to come as soon as possible, with the first flight of 274 currently scheduled to land on May 31.

Meanwhile, we have committed to helping the Jewish Agency for Israel with flights and other immigration costs for their ‘Aliyah Super Week’ planned for next week, which was amazingly set to go on even with the conflict. JAFI now expects over 400 Jewish immigrants to arrive in Israel next week on flights coming from more than 20 countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Finland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States.

At present, the ICEJ can sponsor Aliyah flights for at least 100 of these new arrivals, but with your help there is still time for us to commit to more flights. So please consider a generous gift to assist us with the Aliyah Super Week.

Thank you for all you are doing to help us meet these urgent needs during this very difficult period for Israel.
 

Please, donate towards our Israel in Crisis relief efforts.
 

 

 

Please, donate towards our urgent Aliyah efforts.
 

ICEJ Helps Launch National Call Center to Serve Holocaust Survivors

This week, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined its charitable partners Yad Rosa and Bnai Zion to open the first-of-its-kind National Call Center to serve the urgent needs of Holocaust survivors and other elderly Israelis nationwide.

The National Call Center was dedicated on Tuesday evening in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa, just two blocks from the ICEJ’s special Home for Holocaust Survivors. The call center was the vision of Shimon Sabag, CEO of Yad Rosa, which he founded last year amid the corona crisis to assist Holocaust survivors forced to isolate in their homes to avoid the virus. The ICEJ has joined with Bnai Zion, an American Jewish charitable organization, to provide the seed funding to help the newly expanded National Call Center operate during its initial years of service.

Over the past year, tens of thousands of elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel have been confined to their homes due to COVID-19. This left many struggling with loneliness and the return of painful memories as Jewish youths trapped in Nazi-occupied Europe.

In response, Yad Rosa opened an emergency call center in Haifa last year to reach out to Holocaust survivors and other elderly in the surrounding area. The center began taking them groceries and hot meals, arranging home repairs, driving survivors to the doctor for medical care and vaccine shots, and sending volunteers on home visits to lift their spirits. Some received walkers or wheelchairs to help them get around. A fleet of scooters also was acquired to ensure rapid responses to those with immediate needs. The crisis center also simply called survivors to check in and let them know someone cared.

The ICEJ joined in supporting this local call center in Haifa earlier this year, and the vision has since grown to providing one central emergency call center to serve the whole nation, with local distribution warehouses to be set up in several large Israeli cities to eventually cover all regions of the country.

Israel has been slowly emerging from the corona lockdowns, but the experience of the last year has shown many of the 165,000 Holocaust survivors still living in Israel have pressing needs regardless of corona. Many tend to be reclusive, and thus a nationwide strategy was needed to ensure they are getting the care and attention they need and deserve. The Yad Rosa national call center will provide an effective means to assist these Holocaust survivors and other struggling elderly citizens in a wide variety of ways.

The new national call center will operate 24 hours around the clock on weekdays, and will be manned by staff and community volunteers from across Israeli society, as well as youth performing their year of national service. These teams will be actively reaching out to scores of Holocaust survivors every day to inquire about their condition and needs, and then work to immediately assist them. For instance, they will help provide medical and rehabilitation equipment, oxygen generators, wheelchairs and walkers, surveillance cameras for continuous assistance, as well as prescribed medications, hot meals and groceries, all free of charge to the Holocaust survivors and other elderly In Israel. The volunteers also will pay home visits, and deliver blankets, appliances and other household items, as needed.

One special feature of the new initiative is a plan to deliver for free a Medical Alert watch to every Holocaust survivor in Israel. This digital watch can monitor the wearer’s vital signs and has an emergency alert button and GPS locator to alert the Yad Rosa teams and other first responders of an urgent need and where to find them.

Another key feature of the national emergency center will be the fleet of scooters to be deployed nationwide which will allow fast responses to those in urgent need of help.

ICEJ vice president & senior spokesman David Parsons was on hand at the dedication ceremony on Tuesday evening to cut the ribbon at the new national calling center, along with Shimon Sabag of Yad Rosa, Rabbi Ari Lamm, the CEO of Bnai Zion, and Israeli-American actress and Haifa native Moran Atias.

Parsons also spoke that evening with Shaked, a 19 year-old volunteer doing her national service at the existing call center for the Haifa area. Shaked described her work as “very interesting and meaningful, to be in direct contact with these elderly people and know you are making a difference in their lives. I also enjoy working with all the volunteers on our team, who give of their time and come from all sectors – both young and old, Jews and non-Jews. It shows how much they all care!”

The new national call center is located just two blocks for the ICEJ’s special assisted living facility for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, which we will continue to operate and even expand in the years to come. But there is still so much more to be done to help these Holocaust survivors live out their last days with dignity and free of concerns on how to make ends meet.

This new national call center provides a timely, effective and comprehensive means to meet the needs of many more worthy Holocaust survivors all across Israel. And we are looking to our Christian friends and supporters worldwide to help us fund this emergency center in the years ahead.

Please extend your hand of compassion to deserving Holocaust survivors in Israel by supporting this nationwide calling center in Haifa. Thank you for caring, and for acting today!

 

Sheltering beneath the Hodaya Community Center

Hodaya is among the 21 villages situated within the Hof Ashkelon region in southern Israel, which is home to around 20,000 people. At the heart of Hodaya is the Community Center, surrounded by kindergarten playgrounds, sports fields, and synagogues. Both young and old gather there to simply enjoy life together, but sadly this community’s life is often traumatized with rocket onslaughts from nearby Gaza.

The Community Center recently saw a face-lift and now welcomes a variety of activities within its walls, like music and cultural events, theatre plays, sports and exercise classes, and creative handiwork, among others. But one very important aspect of the center was missing – a proper bomb shelter! Situated beneath the community center was an old underground shelter which, until recently, was in very bad shape. The room was totally unusable, dark, and lacked proper ventilation, while the pipes leaked, and the floor was covered with standing water.

Itamar, head of the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, saw the potential for this shelter to be refurbished to serve the whole community.

“After the last Gaza crisis, we saw that many places lacked shelters. However, we really value the ability to continue our community life. In a large shelter like this, people can come and sleep there in time of emergency, if they do not have a place of safety at home,” explained Itamar.

When the ICEJ heard about the need to refurbish this dilapidated underground shelter, our immediate response was “YES!” and the work began! Not only can this shelter serve as a place of safety, but it will provide an additional space for community activities. The transformation began right away as the stairway leading to the shelter was retiled, the water drained out, extractor fans and air conditioners installed, the ablution facility renovated, new piping installed, a new electrical box and lighting added, and the walls painted, among other improvements. Much to the delight of the community, the room is now fully functional!

On 2 July, Moshav Hodaya residents warmly hosted ICEJ staff to dedicate the newly refurbished underground shelter. Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, attached the dedication plaque to a wall near the entrance and shared with community members how the renovation of this shelter was made possible through the love and support of German Christians.

“Just as there are those against Israel, there are those who are for Israel,” assured Nicole. “Many Christians love Israel. They pray for you, they demonstrate on your behalf, and they also give generously to support you in many ways. They may live far away, yet when they heard through the ICEJ of the challenges you face along the Gaza border, they chose to give a practical expression to that love.”

Indeed, the dedication plaque will serve as a constant reminder to the Hodaya community of this Christian love and concern.

Amnon Ziv, security chief for Hof Ashkelon, related how this area has under 30 seconds to seek safety when the red-alert siren sounds the alarm of incoming rockets from Gaza.

“Only new houses have shelters, but older houses, which make up about 50% of the community, do not,” Amnon noted. “With 2000 rockets landing over 10 days in this area – the situation was very tough. Now that we have begun, we will be looking to renovate and reclaim other old underground shelters that have fallen out of use. In fact, we’ve already selected the next project!”

He also wanted to express his appreciation for the ICEJ’s help, adding: “I just want to say thank you for all that you do for the region. It is a lot!”

Shlomit, an old-timer on the moshav since 1951, was eager to tell the ICEJ team about the history of the area and proudly shared about her decades as a teacher in the local kindergarten. In fact, looking around with satisfaction, she pointed to the many community leaders she instructed as children.

“I am excited about this renovated shelter,” Shlomit added. “All my grandchildren can come here for activities – it’s going to really do a lot of good.”

During the recent Gaza war, Shlomit did not have it easy. She had to undergo surgery and without a shelter in her home, was left without a safe place to recover.

“The older people also want to get out of the house,” she said. “Even during corona, we came to the community center for different activities.”

Simcha Mizrachi has lived in the area for 45 years, yet for her this recent Gaza war was extremely frightening.

“It was even worse than the Operation Protection Edge war seven years ago,” she explained. “This is because more rockets fell in a shorter period and many of the families in this community do not have shelters. A lot of people had to have treatment for trauma. Some had panic attacks, but you carry on. Now you see the people are happy and are coming back to themselves again. It is very important to get back to a normal life and not to remain in the crisis and stress. That is why we make sure that there are sports and activities, and a reason to get out of the house to feel normal again. We use this center all the time!”

After the Gaza crisis, a ‘medical clown’ made an appearance at the center for activities with the kids to give them some stress relief.

“Now, the shelter downstairs will enable two events to take place here at one time” said Simcha.

For most residents of Moshav Hodaya, this shelter project represented their first personal introduction to the ICEJ. Encouraged by what she heard, Shlomit summed up her feelings when she whispered approvingly to the local rabbi, “Listen, I am very impressed, these are very special people!”

Thank you for your generous giving! Your donations assist in meeting one of life’s basic needs – safety and security – for the vulnerable Israeli communities living near the Gaza border. Please continue to support these efforts.
 

Bringing Jews Home From All Directions!

Over the first six months of 2021, Israel has welcomed more than 11,000 new Jewish immigrants, marking a rise of 30% in Aliyah compared to the same time period last year. And once again the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has played a major role in this wave of Aliyah by assisting 16% of these olim (newcomers) to reach the Promised Land. We are able to do this amazing work thanks to the generosity of Christians around the world who continually supporting our Aliyah efforts.

So far this year, the Christian Embassy has helped more than 1,800 Jews immigrate to Israel, including our sponsorship of Aliyah flights for 1,164 new arrivals from 17 countries, while funding pre-Aliyah programs for another 700 newcomers from Germany and the Former Soviet Union.

One of the highlights came in early March, when the last Aliyah flight of ‘Operation Rock of Israel’ arrived, bringing the final group of some 2,000 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants involved in this emergency airlift first launched last December. Through this special airlift, the ICEJ has sponsored Aliyah flights for 402 Ethiopian Jews in total so far this year, making their dream of returning to the Jewish homeland come true.

In April, a special evacuation flight arranged by the Jewish Agency for Israel and sponsored by the ICEJ brought a group of 102 Jewish immigrants from Kazakhstan to Israel. Their Aliyah came at a particularly difficult time due to corona-related health rules and travel restrictions which added complications to obtaining visas and permits for flights, so their arrival from Alma Ata was a small miracle, according to one JAFI official.

Despite the recent Gaza conflict, Israel also welcomed a wave of over 500 Jewish immigrants from more than twenty countries during an unprecedented ‘Aliyah Super Week’ at the end of May. The ICEJ was one of the main sponsors of this special week-long effort by funding flights for 148 of these new immigrants, coming from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United States, among other countries.

Due to the surge in coronavirus cases in India, the Israeli cabinet also decided to launch an emergency airlift for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India. Claiming descent from the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, they already had been approved to immigrate to Israel later this year, but plans were quickly put in place to bring half of them earlier. An initial group of 160 Bnei Menashe landed in Israel on May 31st as part of the emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, with the Christian Embassy sponsoring flights for 99 of these olim. Yet unfortunately, 115 members of the group were held back after several dozen tested positive for COVID-19, thereby delaying their homecoming.

It has been a difficult experience as they were all so eager to reach Israel after 27 centuries of exile from their ancestral homeland. But suddenly, they were stopped in transit and placed in quarantine in New Delhi, where they have remained until Israeli and Indian health authorities agree it is safe for them to travel on to Tel Aviv. They had no means to pay the costs of their housing, food and medical care, and thus were totally dependent on the mercy and generosity of others. This was a dilemma we could not ignore, so the ICEJ covered their housing and meals for about one-third of their four-week stay in New Delhi.
Thankfully, after their complete recovery a group of 114 Bnei Menashe finally landed in Israel on June 27th. In total, the ICEJ sponsored flights for 131 out of the 274 Bnei Menashe who were brought to Israel over the past month. The next airlift of another 274 Bnei Menashe is expected in two months.

Thank you for your support of the ICEJ’s many Aliyah efforts, as we are bringing Jews home from all directions, just as the Hebrew prophets foretold (Isaiah 43:5-6). Together, we can help many more Jewish families return to the safety and promise of their biblical homeland!
 

ICEJ stands with Israeli Care-Givers and Community Protectors!

The atmosphere was filled with excitement, but shhh, it is a surprise!

With joy, the ICEJ’s AID team recently went about gathering special messages of encouragement from ICEJ national offices around the world and preparing care gift packages for Israeli care-givers and local security teams and first-responders who live and work along the Gaza border. They have just been through another rough time serving their communities during the recent Hamas rocket war, and we felt they deserved a special ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice and service.

Personalized messages of hope along with photos were sent from Australia, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Fiji, Kenya, Switzerland, Finland, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, America, Canada, South America, and other nations and regions, each with a message carefully placed in a uniquely painted gift card. Many of the messages included the scripture from Deuteronomy 31:7 “…Be strong and courageous…” Unknown to them, these were the same words written in Hebrew “chazak v'ematz” (be strong and courageous!) that the AID department requested to have painted on beautifully handcrafted coffee mugs for those receiving our care packages.

The gifts were earmarked for dozens of psychologists, therapists and security officials who selflessly gave of their time and energy around the clock to ensure community safety and resilience in the face of thousands of rocket attacks in the recent rocket war with Hamas in Gaza. They did this while facing the same concerns and fears for family and loved ones as the rest of the Israeli population. The care packages included the personalized card, jam, wine, olive oil, chocolates, tea, coffee, pottery coffee mugs, and a lovely notebook made from recycled paper, bound and hand painted by elderly new immigrants. The hope was that each recipient would take the opportunity, after all the stress and exhaustion, to feel appreciated and to stop and be renewed with loved ones.

Soon, the AID vehicle was packed full and ready to head south to deliver the care packages! Beaming with excitement, the AID team made their way to the Eshkol and Sadot Negev Resilience Centers situated within a few kilometers of the Gaza border.

The unsuspecting care workers were caught by surprise when our team came in laden with gifts for them, and more than one person commented on how much thought went into the gifts. Together with the blessings that came from around the world, there also were special items made with love from all over Israel – from the Golan, the Shomron region, and Jerusalem – all in a collective blessing meant especially for our friends in the South. As an added benefit, the gift package items were specially chosen to strengthen local businesses and immigrant artists across Israel.

At the Eshkol Resilience Center, chief psychologist Yizhar Sha’ar was greatly moved by the gesture. “Knowing that people notice what we are going through and support us is what enables us to be resilient and strong in the face of ongoing attacks. That resilience is the most important thing that keeps us going,” he said.

Ma’ayan Frenkel, Director of the Sadot Negev Resilience Center, shared with Nicole Yoder, ICEJ VP of AID and Aliyah, how their center has been busier than ever since the recent Gaza rocket war ended. “We are providing family therapy and at least three group workshops a day for educators and families with children, in addition to personal trauma treatment sessions,” she related.

Esther Marcus, a trauma center manager and therapist, acknowledged that the work has been so intense, their own families have suffered as a result of the many extra hours invested. Upon receiving her gift package, Esther said it felt like they had just received a “big hug”!

Nicole reassured both those who gave essential emotional care and those who stood ready to protect their communities that the ICEJ stands with them and, together with our friends worldwide, wanted to encourage them that they are not alone. “Our many friends worldwide watched with concern, prayed for you, held rallies on your behalf and gave generously for bomb shelters, firefighting equipment and other trauma or crisis-related support,” Nicole said. “Your courage, depth of conviction, resilience, selflessness and sacrificial dedication are an inspiration to all of us!”

Nicole’s message and the gift packages she brought touched all the Israelis deeply.

Thank you for your support, which enables the Christian Embassy not only to meet the needs of vulnerable towns and villages living near the Gaza border, but also to care for those who worked tirelessly behind scenes to help their communities endure and recover from this latest trauma. Your giving is very much appreciated!
 

ICEJ helps delayed group of Bnei Menashe finally reach Israel

A group of 114 Bnei Menashe who were stuck in transit for the past month in New Delhi due to some having coronavirus finally landed in Israel on Sunday as part of an emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem serving as a main sponsor of this urgent Aliyah operation. In total, the ICEJ sponsored flights for 131 out of the 274 Bnei Menashe who were brought to Israel over the past month. We also covered the delayed group’s housing and meals for about one-third of their four-week stay in New Delhi.

The arrival of new olim to Israel is always a very touching and emotional event. Batya Misao, along with her four children, were among the 114 immigrants who arrived in Israel on Sunday night. The Aliyah story of this Israelite family is nothing short of a heart-rending journey.

Batya has been dreaming about making Aliyah to Israel for as long as she can remember. Once she married her husband Samuel and they started a family, the dream grew to include their children – twelve-year-old Ellan, nine-year-old Leah, five-year-old Zohar, and three-year-old Nuriah.

It is difficult to imagine what a blow this family experienced as they were full of bright hopes when tragedy struck last year. Samuel died in a devastating car accident. After that, it seemed that all of Batya’s plans, her hopes and dreams, had collapsed overnight.

However, Batya managed to put the pieces of their life back together. As a single mother now, she always kept a positive attitude, still waiting for the day when she could bring her family to Israel to fulfil their dream, carrying the memory of her husband Samuel home with her to Zion. She knew that even in the midst of darkness, there is always room for a ray of hope.

Due to a major surge in coronavirus deaths and infections in India, the Israeli government decided earlier this year to speed up the Aliyah process for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India already approved to immigrate to Israel. Descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh, half the group were about to make their dream come true, including Batya and her children. A specially chartered flight was arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy, to bring the first 274 of the pre-approved group in an emergency airlift in May.

But right before they were about to depart on the final leg from New Dehli, about three dozen people in the group tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to stay behind, along with their families. This meant the Misao family had to wait not knowing when they could finally reach Israel. It ended up another 27 long days and nights of waiting before everyone recovered and the entire group could fly on to their desired destination. Thankfully, the ICEJ stepped in to assist with their urgent need for help with housing, food, and care for these families until they could finally leave for Israel.

What a joy for the Misao family to finally be back in the land of their ancestors after 27 centuries in exile and an extra four weeks in New Delhi.

The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” claim descent from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Their ancestors were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian Empire some 27 centuries ago and wandered throughout the East until they reached what is now northeast India, between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Despite their wanderings and isolation, they kept their ancient traditions alive, such as honoring Shabbat and refusing to eat pork. Most of all, they kept alive their dream of one day returning to the Land of their forefathers.

The next airlift of the second group of 274 Bnei Menashe is expected in early September, so please join with us in helping with their prophetic return to Israel. Give generously today to the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!

Support and Solidarity for Israeli communities in the South

Ilan Keith Isaacson is security chief for the Eshkol Regional Council, which stretches across 40 kilometers of the 65-kilometer Israeli border with Gaza. During a recent interview for the weekly ICEJ Webinar series online, he shared about the conflict with Hamas in May and the constant threats his communities face.

“When 4300 missiles are being shot into Israel within 11 days, it’s very hard to function in our area”, he said. “In the Eshkol region, there were 729 sirens in those 11 days and about 30% of the missiles which were shot into Israel fell into the Eshkol region. But something more concerning to us is that 120-millimeter mortars, which is a very deadly bomb, fell directly into our kibbutzim - almost 80 in all. To hear the sirens hourly is one thing, but when the mortars are falling in the kibbutzim, that is something else – that is actually terrifying!”

Knowing how volatile this area along the Gaza border is, the ICEJ has worked closely with the Eshkol region to provide equipment for security volunteers and first responders, including ‘walkie-talkie’ radio equipment to respond quickly to a crisis, fire-fighting trailers and protective clothing for use in extinguishing the ongoing arson fires started by incendiary balloons released from Gaza into Israeli farming fields, and finally dozens of life-saving mobile bomb shelters.

Expressing his gratitude, Ilan said: “Thank you for the bomb shelters... We only have between 5 to 15 seconds to get into shelters here. Thank you for what you give to the rescue and search teams of the municipality. Thank you for the fire volunteers’ equipment so that we can deal with these very extreme situations. With all these things, there are no better words than ‘just saving lives’.”

Through your generous donations, the ICEJ had an opportunity to show support to the Israeli communities living on the Gaza border earlier this month by delivering much-needed fire-fighting suits as well as a life-saving mobile bomb-shelter.

Please watch our video showing the demonstration of our solidarity with these vulnerable Israeli communities in the south of Israel.

To ensure these communities along the Gaza border are well prepared to protect themselves from further rocket onslaughts, please help the ICEJ continue to provide them with bomb shelters and other needed security equipment. Your gifts are saving lives!

 

Israeli children near Gaza learn resilience through creativity

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, just visited Israeli communities near the Gaza border to offer support and see how they are doing since the recent Gaza conflict ended.

Arriving at the Sadot Negev Resilience Center, Nicole was greeted by the center’s manager Esther Marcus, who expressed an emotional thanks from a heart overflowing with gratitude to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for our ongoing support.

Esther cannot recall how many times during this latest Gaza conflict that the red alert siren sounded at all hours day and night, signaling a constant barrage of missiles headed their way.

“You are saving lives and thank you for saving my life!” said Esther, as she recalled having to run to the center’s safe room built last year by the ICEJ. “People ask me all the time; do you get used to it? – I say, you never get used to someone trying to kill you, but you do learn to cope, and you build your resilience,” said Esther.

Serving the local community, the Sadot Negev Resilience Center is located within three kilometers of the Gaza border. The center was built as a place of refuge and healing for traumatized families in the community and surrounding region, and offers short-term counselling and coping strategies provided by qualified therapists. A hotline kept therapists busy round the clock while under attack, however, once the ceasefire began the Resilience Center went into high gear offering workshops for children and their parents to help them process the ordeal they had just experienced.

“Each child participates in a workshop together with their parents, where they learn different ways and techniques for coping with their anxiety around what’s going on”, Esther explained. She added that these workshops are also available for educators to enable them to work with the children when they return to school as well.

The generous response of our Christian supporters worldwide enabled the ICEJ to provide funds to the Resilience Center to assist traumatized children participating in the workshops.

“You give us the financial backing and the ability to buy tools, toys, and gifts for children, and they know that it comes from people like yourselves who are giving them a virtual hug and helping them cope. At the same time, they are also learning the importance of giving and accepting”, said Esther.

“Here in the Resilience center, you have enabled us to now help hundreds of families”, Esther told Nicole. “We are running two workshops every day, and thanks to you we have put together a special care package for our families.”

The care package contains a book which Esther wrote called The Colour Red, which is aimed at helping children understand what is going on and what action to take when the red alert siren rings out. Also included is a coloring book with colored pencils which is very therapeutic for children to absorb themselves in, as well as a stress-ball to squeeze or throw against the wall should they need to vent their frustration, other stress-relieving items, and a fun tube of bubbles to blow (helps with deep breathing and relieves stress).

“I just thank you from the bottom of my heart. We look forward to you coming and visiting and seeing that where we live is actually really beautiful”, said Esther. “And please God, one day [I pray] that there will be peace”, she added.

Please know that your generous donations have made it possible for us to assist vulnerable and traumatized communities near Gaza by providing essential safe rooms and other practical tools to cope with the trauma that comes with recurring attacks in the region. This support sends an important message to Israelis that they are not alone. This assistance especially helps strengthen those living on the front lines of battle, increasing their resilience during distressing times.

Please continue supporting the AID work of the ICEJ, which impacts at the very core of Israeli communities in need of our help.
 

 

 

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