Change Region:South Africa

Special Reports

Goodbye to a dream team!

In keeping within Israel’s visa regulations for foreign volunteers, sadly we must say goodbye to three amazing and professional women with unique giftings. These ladies dedicated several years of their lives serving residents at our Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors.

During their time in Israel, they had to deal with the difficulty of the pandemic and the recent Gaza war. As German Christian volunteers, Natalia, Debora and Kerstin have become an integral part of the lives of the residents and the running of the Home.

Tears will flow as we let go and say goodbye, but there is also much gratefulness for the immeasurable impact they have made on both the residents and staff, as well as the lessons they have learned in their own lives. Here are their impressions of their time serving at the Home:

Natalia Ochs, nurse (3 years)

The Holocaust Survivors show so much strength in every situation. I have gained so much from their wisdom.

In these three years I got to know myself even better; my weaknesses, and my strength and through the daily interaction with the residents I learned patience and humility. The Survivors showed so much strength even in the most difficult circumstances, which taught me not to panic so quickly. The most beautiful thing that happened during this time was that I felt God’s very deep love for the Holocaust Survivors.

Debora Wanner, physiotherapist (2 years)

At times there were many challenges, especially during the Corona pandemic and my time in the Haifa Home was not always easy. However, I was amazed to see how God used the difficulties to bring us closer to the residents, Israeli staff, and international caregivers. Besides the differences in culture, age, and religion, I see myself now as part of a big, accepting, and nurturing family called "the Haifa Home". Serving as a physiotherapist, I saw many changes in the residents and I will treasure a bucket-load of moments in my heart, like: a person smiling at me for the first time; a resident learning to walk again after a serious injury; a resident who hardly left her room before, willing to participate in a weekly gymnastic group; a hug of love shared shortly before a person died; someone’s difficult story of their past shared with me in secret; and a handmade scarf knitted as a surprise for me! I am so grateful for the opportunity to collect such beautiful memories and being able to see God at work daily!

Kerstin Hoffmann (optician by profession)

Israel and her people have left their unremovable footprints in my life. My heart’s desire when coming to Israel was: “I want to leave my comfort zone.” This happened far more intensively than I could have imagined. – Life starts after leaving your comfort zone! God has shown and taught me so many things during this time and He has used our dear residents for His purposes. It is not about me; it is about Him and His people. I have learned that my boundaries are not His limits. Time is one of the most precious things you can give, while friendship and trust need time to grow, and love knows its way. These Holocaust Survivors have so much love to give. It is always worth it to have patience and keep on going until you see growth in what you have invested. And, you will even be surprised how our heavenly Father has given you more than you could have asked for!

A new team on the horizon

After a long wait for applicants, in March we received applications from very professional and capable women, who feel called to come and serve with us. In August and September, we will be welcoming a new team of five ladies to the Haifa Home: two volunteers just out of high school; a physiotherapist and two nurses, who will help us further develop the level of services and quality of life for the residents of our Haifa Home community.

Thank you for your support to our special place of warmth and loving care for our precious Holocaust survivors in dire need of assistance.

ICEJ Bolsters Israeli Security and First-Responders During Gaza Border Tour

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined Operation Lifeshield on Monday (14 June) in hosting a visit to Israeli communities along the Gaza border to assess recovery and security efforts in the wake of the recent rocket war with Hamas, and to deliver vital security equipment to regional authorities.

Yesterday’s visit by an ICEJ delegation featured the delivery of a portable bomb shelter to the site near the Erez Crossing where IDF soldier Omer Talib was killed and two others seriously injured in the recent conflict, as well as the hand-over of 120 fire-fighting suits, complete with boots and an ICEJ key-ring carrying a special message to remind the local first responders and volunteer firemen to be strong and courageous. The field trip also included briefings from local security officials, a tour of the Gaza border fence and strategic overlooks into Gaza, and a visit to the Ashkelon factory where the mobile bomb shelters are manufactured.

Standing so close to the Gaza border on a beautiful summer’s day, it is hard to imagine that only a month ago, this area was a war zone. There is still a tangible tension in the air, as the sound of IDF drones buzz overhead, while a security officer warns, “anywhere you can see Gaza, Gaza can see you!” At any time, there could be an eruption destroying the delicate calm.

Over the past twelve years, the ICEJ has donated over 100 portable bomb shelters to Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as well as two dozen fire-fighting vehicles, to deal with the daily threats of terror and arson attacks emanating from Gaza. The ICEJ has another 15-to-20 bomb shelters now on order with Operation Lifeshield.

The solidarity visit began at the Ibim security center for the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council, where the fire-fighting equipment was transferred to local authorities.

“There are very complicated security challenges here, which have not stopped since 2001,” Ayal Chajbi, regional security chief for Shaar HaNegev, told the Christian visitors. “Throughout the recent conflict, we realized where we were missing bomb shelters and sirens and other security measures. But we also realized what we do have – good people who help!”

Chajbi explained why the top-grade firemen’s suits were so needed to fight the daily threat of incendiary balloons from Gaza, adding: “This is a time to say thanks to those who think of us. We pray that we won’t have to use this equipment, that it will be stuck in storage. But the reality is this will give us protection so our communities can continue with their lives.”

“You should know that Christian friends all over the world care about you and are praying for you,” responded Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid & Aliyah. “We are worried for your safety when we hear about the many deliberate fires and other dangers you face here. This is our opportunity to show our support through our actions, and to encourage you to be strong and courageous.”

Later, the delegation watched as a mobile bomb shelter was lowered into place at the entrance to a community area in Nativ HaAsara, just meters from the Gaza fence, which the IDF and Magen David Adom (MDA) use to evacuate the wounded in times of crisis along the Gaza border. This shelter is door-less as we are told that there simply is no time to even open a door to the shelter in this area. With only seconds to spare after the red-alert siren, once you enter the shelter’s passageway, you are safe. The words on the shelter’s dedication plaque “to provide protection and comfort for our dear friends” will stand firm as testimony that this particular shelter was made possible by a generous gift through ICEJ Switzerland.

The IDF soldier killed in the recent rocket war fell near this spot due to a Hamas anti-tank rocket, but the bomb shelter will now allow the IDF and MDA to coordinate evacuations from the area more safely in future.

Thank you for supporting the ICEJ in ensuring that the vulnerable Israeli communities living on the edge of Gaza are protected.
 

 

Bnei Menashe stuck in India one week closer to home in Israel

Last week we reported about 115 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India who were on their way to Israel but were stopped in transit in New Delhi after a number tested positive for coronavirus. Thankfully, we can now update you that many donors responded to the ICEJ’s urgent appeal for help with housing, feeding and caring for these families until they can finally leave for Israel.

The group was among the 275 Bnei Menashe immigrants who were scheduled to board a specially chartered emergency flight for Israel last week arranged by The Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy. We were grateful that 160 of those new immigrants managed to arrive in Israel on time, with 99 sponsored by the ICEJ. Unfortunately, this joyful moment was dampened by the news that the other 115 Bnei Menashe 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. They had already been approved for immigration, and many had closed their businesses and sold their homes in anticipation of the move. But suddenly, they were stopped and placed in quarantine, and told they would have to remain there until Indian and Israeli health authorities agree it is safe for them to travel on to Tel Aviv.

"It's like a one-time opportunity, a golden opportunity to get such a chance", one of the Bnei Menashe told a local Indian newspaper.

They had no means to pay all 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. And thanks to everyone who responded, the ICEJ was able to cover the expenses for their first week of staying in New Delhi. And we are hopeful that we can continue to help meet this urgent need for another week or so, until they are able to complete their journey home to Israel with a good bill of health.

Since Israel allowed the resumption of the Bnei Menashe Aliyah in 2012 over 2,400 have arrived in the second wave and almost half of them have been sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

But the Bnei Menashe community has approximately 6,000 members still living mainly in Manipur and Mizoram, in northeast India. They were officially recognized as “sons of Israel” in April 2005, when [Ashkenazi] Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that the Bnei Menashe come from Manasseh, one of the ‘lost tribes’ exiled from the northern kingdom of Israel some 2700 years ago.

Our support for the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to gather the Jewish people back in the historic Land of Israel, and in this particular case to “bring your descendants from the east” (Isaiah 43:5).

So let us who have begun this good deed complete it to the end. Give your best gift today to support the journey home of this ancient tribe of Israel.
 

 

Bnei Menashe Stuck in Transit to Israel Need our Help!

With India currently suffering from a major surge in coronavirus deaths and infections, the Israeli government recently decided to speed up the Aliyah process for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India who had already been approved for immigration later this year. A special charter flight was arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel and Shavei Israel to bring the first half of the group in an emergency airlift last Monday, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem sponsoring flights for 99 of the 275 new immigrants expected on board.

The group had left their home villages in northeast India over a week ago for the long bus ride to a regional airport and from there to connect with their specially chartered flight to Israel. But right before they were to depart on the plane from New Dehli, a number of the group tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to stay behind with their families. Thankfully, the remaining 160 members of this Aliyah flight tested negative and were able to arrive in Tel Aviv on Monday. But the 115 who were left behind are now quarantined in a hotel back in India, with several hospitalized due to their worsening condition. They all need to be housed, fed and cared for over the next few weeks until they recover and can make the final leg of their journey to Israel.

These precious members of Bnei Menashe community, who claim descent from the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, were extremely excited about finally ending their 27 centuries of exile and separation from the Land and people of Israel. They also were anxious to reach the safety of Israel, which has been emerging out of the corona crisis.

To make this journey, they had sold their homes and businesses, left behind most of their possessions, and set off for their ancestral homeland. But suddenly, corona caught up with some in the group and they and their families are now in desperate straits with no means to take care of themselves. They are totally dependent on someone coming to help them endure the difficult days ahead until they make it home to Israel.

The Jewish Agency and others involved in planning this urgent airlift had not budgeted for this sudden emergency, and now they are looking to Christians to help cover the added expenses of housing, feeding and caring for these families during their long layover and then arranging a new chartered flight to bring them home at last.

What a shock to be finally heading home to reunite with the land and people of Israel, only to be waylaid by corona along the way! May we all open our hearts to their dire plight at this moment.

The ICEJ has decided to step in and cover as much of these urgent expenses as we can, but we need your help. Please give generously as we come forward to provide for these Bnei Menashe families stuck in New Dehli and help them to finally reach the Promised Land.

 

Triumphant steps for Jewish newcomers to Israel

The decision to immigrate to a new country is not always an effortless walk in the park. Much paperwork is required, and permissions need to be granted. Once these hurdles are overcome, the path ahead may not be so simple and straight forward, and each immigrant must discover for themselves the way forward.

*Sophia is a single mother with a 9-year-old daughter, *Rafaela, with special needs. Before her decision to immigrate to Israel, Sophia completed a master’s degree in education and was working as a daycare and kindergarten teacher. However, the desire to return to her Jewish homeland and the hope for a better life were so strong, that with determination she began her small family’s immigration process, booked their flights, and arrived with her daughter in Israel.

Adjusting to life in Israel was extremely challenging. Both Sophia and Raphaela struggled to adapt to a new culture and learn the Hebrew language. Israeli culture was foreign and frustrating, and differed in so many ways from their native South America. In addition, Sophia had the added burden of struggling financially to support her family.

Since Sophia came from a place of much economic and emotional chaos, she needed help understanding financial planning. For example, upon arrival Sophia accepted every credit card offered to her without realizing she would be paying high interest and extra charges for them.

Another setback came when her degrees were not accepted by the Israeli Ministry of Education before arrival. As a result, she could not work in her profession. Striving to support her family, she took odd jobs until she finally found work as a daycare assistant just before the corona crisis began. However, the daycare closed shortly after, leaving her on unpaid leave and ineligible for unemployment which only kicks in after a minimum of six months on the job.

Added to all of these challenges, Sophia urgently needed to find proper care for her daughter. Various challenges in her native country meant that Raphaela had not received any counseling or therapeutic treatment for her special needs for quite some time. Thankfully, unexpected relief was soon on the way!

Entering an integration center for new immigrants, Sophia found help through a mentoring program sponsored by the ICEJ. Having a professional mentor to offer guidance, support and set achievable goals, meant that the sun could start shining a little brighter again on Sophia and Raphaela’s future.

Help from the mentor meant that Raphaela was able to start participating in a therapeutic horse-riding course, and she began receiving hydrotherapy as well. Although Sophia did not initially pursue the goal of obtaining child support from Raphaela’s father, with her mentor’s guidance she has courageously begun the process. In the meantime, preparations are underway for when Sophia and her family need to leave the integration center, with approval already received for a rent reduction.

With her mentor’s help, Sophia successfully received approval by the Israeli Minister of Education for her M.A. and is now able to return to teaching. She also loves to act and to dance and always dreamt of learning to do make-up – interests that she is now able to pursue. Today, Sophia describes herself as “Israeli” and says that she really loves living in Israel. Over the past year, she has come to understand that every country has its unique culture and characteristics.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ’s Vice President for AID and Aliyah, is thrilled that the mentorship program has made such a positive difference for Sophia and Raphaela.

“The challenges immigrants face are compounded by the fact that they lack everyday knowledge in their new environment and miss the support and advice of friends and family”, said Nicole. “Often, they do not know the right office to turn to, are unable read utility bills or complicated application forms for services, or generally are not aware of discounts or opportunities for assistance. We aim to smooth the way before them and minimize frustrations or obstacles so they can become firmly and confidently established in their homeland.”

Your support helps more Jewish immigrants take triumphant steps as they begin their new lives in Israel. A gift of $2,750 enables a brand-new Israeli immigrant family less than a year in the country to enjoy the supportive care of a mentor. And aiding immigrants who are slightly longer in the country but who have fallen into distress generally requires a larger investment of $5,500.

Thank you for helping the ICEJ ensure that there are professional mentors available to help newcomers like Sophia and Raphaela.
 

[*Real names and photos are withheld at request.]

ICEJ Helps Sponsor Urgent Aliyah of Bnei Menashe

Despite many challenges, a group of 160 Bnei Menashe landed in Israel on Monday 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. Several hundred more members of the ancient Israelite tribe have been approved to immigrate to Israel, but for now they remain stuck in India, which is facing a sharp spike in the coronavirus.

Due to the surge in coronavirus cases in India, the Israeli government recently decided to launch an emergency airlift of 548 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe in northeast India to Israel by the end of May. Descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh, they have already been approved to immigrate to Israel, and the ICEJ has committed so far to sponsoring Aliyah flights for 99 of these olim (newcomers).

Among the Israelite descendants who have returned to the Promised Land in modern times, the Bnei Menashe identify as part of the “lost tribe” of Manasseh from the northern kingdom of Israel exiled some 2700 years ago. Our support for the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to Israel to “bring your descendants from the east”, as we read in Isaiah 43:5.

The Bnei Menashe (“Sons of Manasseh”) are a people living in northeast India who claim that their ancestors were forcibly exiled from the Land of Israel in 732 BC by the Assyrians into the region of today’s Iraq and Iran. From there, they journeyed eastward along the Silk Road to China, where for centuries they are believed to have been part of the community of Kaifeng Jews. They later wandered southward during a time of persecution and eventually settled in the states of Mizoram and Manipur, located in an isolated enclave of India laying between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

From there, the Bnei Menashe continued to cling to their biblical traditions and identity. They kept the Sabbath and observed kosher laws, celebrated the Jewish festivals, and practiced sacrificial rites. Rediscovered in modern times, their Israelite ancestry was officially recognized by Israel’s rabbinic authorities in 2005.

Israel has allowed over 2,400 members of the Bnei Menashe community to make Aliyah so far. Starting in 2012, almost half of them (1119 in total) have come on Aliyah flights sponsored by the ICEJ.

Throughout their years here, the Bnei Menashe have become valued members of Israeli society, with many contributing to the nation as soldiers, medical professionals or other fields of endeavor. They greatly respect traditional family values, have a strong work ethic, and are deeply loyal to the Jewish state.

During Israel’s recent Independence Day celebrations in April, the Bnei Menashe had special reason to rejoice as a member of their community was honored as one of Israel’s outstanding soldiers at an official ceremony in Jerusalem presided over by outgoing President Reuven Rivlin.

For the Bnei Menashe community, Nadiv Khaute was not the first recipient of the President’s Medal of Excellence. In 2005, IDF Staff Sergeant Tamir Baite, who serves in the Shaked unit of the Givati Brigade, was honored. And in 2017, IDF Staff Sergeant Eliazer Menashe of the Golani Brigade was given the medal. Their success stories highlight the contributions that the Bnei Menashe are making to the State of Israel. The ICEJ is pleased to have a role in the return of this unique community to Israel.

The Bnei Menashe already in Israel have been serving the nation with honor and distinction, but many more are still waiting to make Aliyah.

Reuven and Yokhevet Thongkhai Haokip, from Nagaland, India, are anxiously awaiting their Aliyah date and the reunification of their family. When people ask them why they want to leave the good life they have in India, they respond: “If our father Abraham was willing to leave his land and his father’s house for the Promised Land, why shouldn’t we?”

Reuven, a retired police officer, and Yokhevet, a homemaker, have four daughters and two sons. Their eldest daughter, Maayan, made Aliyah in 2007 and lives in Israel with her husband and three daughters.

In 2015, their daughters Ayelah and Sarah also made Aliyah and raised their families in Israel. Since then, the family has been separated and now is the time to reunite them. We invite you to take a place alongside the ICEJ in helping bring the rest of their family and many other Bnei Menashe to Israel soon.

Please consider a generous donation in this important hour of need to help these Jewish people who are in distress to safely reach the land of Israel.

 

CREDIT PHOTOS as ‘Shavei Israel’

ICEJ Rallies Worldwide for Israel

Over the past week the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, through its national branches and supporters around the globe, has been organizing and joining numerous pro-Israel rallies held worldwide in the wake of the latest Hamas rocket war against the Jewish state. The various rallies have expressed solidarity with Israel and its right of self-defense, as well as challenged their governments to stand against the surge of antisemitism now sweeping the globe.

In one of the ICEJ’s largest rallies, held in Stuttgart last Saturday (22 May), over 1,500 Christians from across Germany gathered with Jewish leaders to voice their support for Israel. ICEJ-Germany national director Gottfried Bühler convened the rally and called upon the federal government to take firm action against the “aggressive climate change of antisemitism” now being witnessed in Germany. He also commended the recent statements in support of Israel made by the German president and foreign minister, but insisted these declarations must be followed up by concrete steps “to deprive antisemitism in our country of its breeding ground.”

Gottfried Bühler urged the German government to:
1) Prevent the flow of German taxpayer monies into the 'treasure boxes of Hamas' and other terror-supporting institutions.
2) Distance Germany from the ‘club of antisemites and anti-Israel revolutionaries’ at the United Nations.
3) Join the alliance of nations that are confronting the antisemitic regime in Iran and its designs to annihilate Israel.
4) Repudiate any effort or plan that would render Judea/Samaria (the West Bank) ‘judenrein”, and instead highlight and support the many successful examples of co-existence between Jews and Arabs in these areas.
5) Recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the German Embassy to Jerusalem.

Other speakers at the Stuttgart rally included Sandra Simovich, Israel’s Consul General in Munich; Dr. Michael Blume, Government Commissioner for the State of Baden-Württemberg for the Fight against Antisemitism; Susanne Jakubowski and Barbara Traub, Board members of the Jewish Religious Community in Württemberg; Bärbel Illi, President of the German-Israeli Association in Stuttgart; Isabel Fezer, Mayor of Stuttgart for Youth and Education; and Udi Lehavi, representative of Keren Hayesod.

Israeli Consul Sandra Simovich thanked the Christians for their “true friendship and commitment,” and described the harrowing experience of recent weeks when Jews in Germany were confronted with hateful threats. When pro-Palestinian protesters call for the destruction of Israel, “it is not a show of solidarity but of pure hatred and antisemitism,” she said. Simovich added that foreign aid to rebuild Gaza must not end up an investment in Hamas terrorism.

Other speakers noted that Israel was being forced once again to fight for its survival, while also voicing dismay that in the very year the nation is marking 1700 years of Jewish life in Germany, Jew-hatred is finding its way back onto German streets.

One poignant moment came when the crowd listened in silence to 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Eva Erben speaking from Ashkelon, in southern Israel, even while sirens were wailing in the background. Erben described the horror of living under constant rocket barrages and her concerns that Hamas was abusing the Palestinian population as human shields.

Other recent pro-Israel rallies with ICEJ sponsorship or involvement have taken place in dozens of other countries, including Denmark, Liberia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Mexico and Slovakia.

        

ICEJ-Mexico convened a solidarity rally in front of the Israeli Embassy in Mexico City. Leaders from several large Christian organizations attended the demonstration, which featured many banners of support for Israel and prayers for the peace of Jerusalem. Enrique Anaya, ICEJ-Mexico Public Affairs Secretary hosted the event and welcomed Israeli Ambassador Zvi Tal, who expressed appreciation for the show of Christian support. He also noted the insanity of Hamas “firing rockets towards Jerusalem, which is a holy city also for Islam. So, we face this terrorist organization that has nothing to do with the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, with whom we would like to live in peace, in coexistence.”

      

 

ICEJ-Slovakia also organized a rally of 200 Christians and Jews in Bratislava with several politicians and cultural and church personalities taking the stage to express support for Israel.

ICEJ leaders and supporters also attended large pro-Israel demonstrations in Copenhagen, Denmark; Monrovia, Liberia; The Hague, Netherlands; and in many other cities over the past week.

   

Meantime, many ICEJ branch leaders voiced their support for Israel in media outlets within their home countries. For example, ICEJ-Estonia national director Peeter Vosu wrote strong opinion columns backing Israel’s right of self-defense which were published in the two largest papers and news sites in Estonia.

 

 

 

Finally, ICEJ staff members in Jerusalem were active in reporting events accurately during the recent conflict. For instance, Fine Ditoka and Harry Cirimaiwasa appeared on national TV in their native Fiji live from Jerusalem to talk about the Hamas rocket war.

 

And ICEJ Vice President & Spokesman David Parsons also appeared in an online rally for Israel in the Philippines hosted by the River of God church movement and attended by scores of pastors and Christian supporters of Israel.

Photo credits:
Germany: Levi Dörflinger
Mexico: EnlaceJudío
Netherlands: Jacob Keegstra
Slovakia: Peter Svec
Denmark: Christina Leinum
Liberia: J. Aaron Wright 

Aliyah Super Week: Over 500 olim from 20 countries arriving this week

We are living in a unique and historical time when neither a global pandemic nor a rocket war can stop the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that the Jewish people will be gathered into their ancestral homeland. An unprecedented ‘Aliyah Super Week’ organized by the Jewish Agency with sponsorship from the ICEJ is vivid evidence of this.

Even despite the recent Gaza conflict, Israel is welcoming a wave of over 500 new Jewish immigrants from more than twenty countries this week. And the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is one of the main sponsors by helping to bring 148 of these new Jewish immigrants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States and other countries.

This special week of aliyah flights from all over the globe has been in the planning over recent months as Israel began emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, but the 11-day Hamas rocket war which ended last Friday threatened to disrupt those plans. While there were a few cancellations of flights as the conflict raged, most of the aliyah flights are landing at Ben-Gurion Airport this week with hundreds of olim ready to build their future in the Jewish state.

“Given the intense conflict we have witnessed here over recent weeks, it is quite remarkable to see these hundreds of Jewish immigrants coming home to Israel from more than 20 nations,” said ICEJ President Dr Jürgen Bühler. “This is so inspiring to see these Jewish families cast their lots with Israel just days after the country was under such intense rocket barrages, and it bodes well for the future of the Jewish state.”This special week of aliyah flights from all over the globe has been in the planning over recent months as Israel began emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, but the 11-day Hamas rocket war which ended last Friday threatened to disrupt those plans. While there were a few cancellations of flights as the conflict raged, most of the aliyah flights are landing at Ben-Gurion Airport this week with hundreds of olim ready to build their future in the Jewish state.

Among these new olim we welcome young people, elderly couples, families with children, so many seemingly different people are united by this incomparable joy and a radiance of hope shines through their eyes.

In addition to sponsoring flights for 148 of these new immigrants coming as part of the ‘Aliyah Super Week’, the ICEJ will be covering flight costs and other travel expenses for 99 members of the Bnei Menashe community who have been approved to come to Israel under an emergency decision of the Israeli cabinet due to the current 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 Monday, May 31.

In total, the ICEJ will be sponsoring aliyah flights for 247 new immigrants over an eight-day period ending next Monday. This will bring to 1,132 the total number of aliyah flights sponsored by the ICEJ so far this year.

Thank you for your support of the ICEJ Aliyah efforts! Together, we can help many more Jewish families return to the Promised Land.

 

CREDIT PHOTOS as ‘Courtesy of JAFI’

Life on the Gaza Border

Forty-one years ago, hope filled Margaret Duvdevani’s heart when she, along with her husband and three small sons, decided to immigrate to Israel from Birmingham Alabama. With trepidation, her friends reminded her that in Israel, her sons (a 5-year-old and a pair of 3-year-old twins) would one day need to serve in the Israeli army. In Margaret’s mind, though, that day was still far in the distance.

Settling into a moshav (farming community) near Gaza, her life was idyllic. Away from the city, beautiful fields surrounded them, as did the sounds of happy children playing in big back yards and pet animals roaming the village. The years flew by, and all three boys entered the Israeli army when they turned 18 years old. Each one then returned safely after completing their three years of required service.

Unfortunately, their serene life came to an abrupt halt one summer’s day in June 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip! Ever since, their new norm has included intensely frightful episodes of sudden rocket barrages, “red alert” sirens, the stress of all-out war every few years, incendiary balloon assaults, and other forms of terror attacks.

Initially, there was nowhere to run and no shelter nearby when the sirens alerted of incoming mortars plummeting down within 15 seconds. So Margaret and her family would lie down on the ground with their hands covering their heads.

“I can’t even remember how many times we have gone through this, but I can tell you it doesn’t get easier”, Margaret recently told the ICEJ.

She now has a bomb shelter in their home, yet she added: “However great this is, our days are long and filled with lots of noise both from Gaza as they fire their missiles, and also from our own army and air force with planes flying in the skies most of the day and night, helicopters patrolling the area, artillery shooting their cannons and shaking our house, and even the noise of the Iron Dome missile interception system as it takes off miles away to intercept an incoming missile.”

During the recent Hamas rocket war against Israel, traumatic stress once again reared its ugly head for Margaret’s village. Children could not enjoy the playgrounds or meet friends, as everyone needed to stay close by the shelters in their own homes. Her family spent hours in the shelter with sounds of explosions and other sudden noises all around.

“There were times when my 8-year-old granddaughter would not come out of the shelter, even to eat”, Margaret shared. “We can only follow the rules of the Israeli Home Front Command and pray for safety every time the ‘code red’ siren goes off. This is the never-ending story of our lives here on the border of the Gaza Strip.”

“Sadly, this is only one account of the trauma experienced by those living near the Gaza border”, explained Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah. “Whole communities are being traumatized. We are acutely aware of the desperate needs these communities have and we are committed to letting them know that they are not alone by providing practical aid.”

While a fragile ceasefire is now in place, this does not mean the quiet will last. The situation on the border remains tense and very uncertain.

The ICEJ is currently responding with emergency relief efforts that include:
1) Providing bomb shelters in public places so that residents can go about their daily lives on the front lines with greater peace of mind. The need for more bomb shelters is immense, as a state comptroller’s report last year found that about 30% of Israelis (2.6 million) do not have access to functional 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.

2) Providing protective vests and other gear for volunteer security and first responder teams who are on the front lines 24/7. They remain in full-time emergency mode as Palestinian terror militias in Gaza continue to ignite wildfires in their fields and villages with incendiary balloons.

3) Supporting trauma relief and assistance projects in the Gaza periphery communities, where resilience centers and trauma counsellors are helping families and children deal with the immense anxiety and the long-term impact of the incessant rocket and terror attacks.

4) Assisting with social welfare projects which are providing basic aid and relief to desperate and disadvantaged Israeli families in the hardest hit areas of the conflict, including in Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other cities and towns which recently came under repeated rocket fire.

Thank you for standing with us as we continue to respond to the destructive impact of the recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Please continue to support our efforts in relieving the trauma experienced by Israeli families living on the Gaza border.

 

ICEJ Expanding Response to Crisis in Israel!

With the Hamas rocket war against Israel now in its eighth day, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is expanding our response to meet the many urgent needs amid this ongoing crisis. Besides the 15 portable bomb shelters we will be providing to vulnerable Israeli border communities over coming weeks, we also are reaching out to Israelis living near the Gaza border area with a variety of humanitarian assistance.

Our emergency relief for Israel will include:

1) Providing protective vests and other gear for volunteer security and first responder teams who are on the front lines 24/7 in this conflict. They actually went into full-time emergency mode 12 days ago, when Palestinian terror militias in Gaza started igniting dozens of wildfires in their fields and villages with incendiary balloons.

2) Sponsoring respites for several days away from the conflict for needy Israeli families, especially children and the elderly, who have been under constant rocket and mortar fire over the past week.

3) Supporting trauma relief and assistance projects in the Gaza periphery communities, where resilience centers and trauma counselors are helping families with children deal with the immense anxiety and long-term impact of the incessant rocket and terror attacks.

4) Assisting with social welfare projects which are providing basic aid and relief to desperate and disadvantaged Israeli families in the hardest hit areas of the present conflict, including in Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other cities and towns under repeated rocket fire. Many Israelis were still out of work from Corona and now the Hamas rocket barrages have crippled their chances of finding a job, while children are out of school and businesses are failing. Others have lost use of their homes due to rocket damage. We want to be there to help wherever we are able.

The longer this Hamas rocket war goes on, the worse the impact will be on Israelis under fire, whether physically, emotionally or economically.

So please help us expand our urgent relief efforts for Israelis in peril from Hamas rockets and terror tactics. Our assistance can do the most good right now, when it is needed most.

Give your best gift today towards our emergency response by giving to our Israel in Crisis fund.
 

 

 

Share this: