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An Aliyah flight that saved a life

Israel has always been open to Jews wanting to return home, even during the Corona crisis, although it does take time to document one’s Jewish heritage. But for one Russian Jewish family who arrived last week, there was no time to waste. Their seven year-old son was battling lymphatic cancer and needed life-saving treatments in Israel. So they were fast-tracked for citizenship in only one week’s time, and the young boy arrived on June 30th on a rescue flight sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. His story is one of a miracle still in the making.

Since late February, the ICEJ has managed to bring over 1,100 Jewish immigrants home to Israel on Aliyah flights arranged by the Jewish Agency. With most global travel halted, these “evacuation flights” are allowed to bring new immigrants already approved for Israeli citizenship. Those on board are being given priority due to urgent health concerns, rising antisemitism, and poor socio-economic conditions. For the Zheleznyak family, their situation indeed was desperate.

Their troubles began some 18 months ago when Boris Zheleznyak and his wife learned their son Maxim had acute leukemia. “Still, the local doctors said that there was nothing to worry about, there was a 95% chance of success,” Boris told Israeli media this week.

Maxim began treatment in one of Russia’s best hospitals, and his parents devoted all their strength to caring for him, as his mother even left her work.

“Many now complain about how difficult it is to get through quarantine. For our family it has been going on for a year and a half. In order not to bring infection into the house, we refused to meet with relatives and friends. Our whole life was divided between the house and the hospital,” said Boris.

Like many cancer patients, brief signs of improvement in Maxim’s condition gave way to setbacks and long days of despair, which were only worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. When recent test results showed a return of the cancer, they started searching for more aggressive treatments, such as a bone marrow transplant. It soon became obvious that the answer could only be found abroad.

Then a friend told them about another Jewish family who were in a similar situation. They had made Aliyah to Israel and were now receiving treatments at the Schneider Children’s Hospital, in Petah Tikvah. So on June 20, Boris wrote a letter to the Jewish Agency with a desperate plea: Let us enter Israel to save our son.

 

Boris was not so optimistic. But the next day he received a call from the local Jewish Agency representative, who said: “We Israelis never leave children without help.” He then did everything possible to ensure the Zheleznyak family’s paperwork was quickly completed in both Israel and Russia.

Miraculously, in just four days, the anxious family had received their passports, and four days later they were on a flight bound for Tel Aviv sponsored by the Christian Embassy.

When the Zheleznyak family landed on June 30, they were met at the airport by Jewish Agency staff. Maxim and his parents were taken through the “green corridor,” and presented with official documents for new arrivals and even medical insurance.

“When will the insurance become active?” – the parents asked nervously. “Like all olim, from the very moment you receive it,” they were told.

The Zheleznyak family still do not believe they are already in Israel, it has all happened so fast.

“On June 16, we received dramatic test results that Maxim’s cancer has gotten worse, and two weeks later we landed at Ben Gurion airport,” Boris explained. “This is a real miracle, because we did not even have passports for international travel... No country in the world would ever grant us citizenship this way, in a matter of days.”

“For the first time after a year and a half of a desperate struggle for the life of our son, we have hope for salvation,” Boris concluded.

Facing a life-threatening disease, amid a global pandemic, with nearly all flights cancelled, and normally staring at months and months of immigration paperwork, the Zheleznyak family is truly in the midst of a miracle. But now they need our continued prayers, that young Maxim will finally beat cancer and grow up healthy and happy in Israel. 

 

 

There are also many more Jewish families intensely longing to reach Israel amid the Corona crisis. Thanks to Christian donors around the world, the ICEJ has managed to bring over 1,100 Jewish immigrants home to Israel on Aliyah flights so far this year. That is a remarkable rate of some 250 olim (newcomers) per month even during the Corona shutdowns.

  

  With all the economic instability and rising antisemitism worldwide, we are now challenging our friends and supporters to help us maintain that pace in the critical months ahead, when Aliyah is expected to increase. Please join our ‘Rescue250’ campaign! Help us to fly another 250 Jews to Israel in the month of July.

Book a seat today at: on.icej.org/rescue250  

ICEJ Feeding Starving Jewish Children in Ethiopia

In 2019, at the request of Isaac Herzog the chairman of the Jewish Agency the ICEJ donated $100,000 to provide emergency nutritional support to Ethiopian Jewish children and nursing mothers in the community in Ethiopia waiting to make Aliyah to Israel.

Medical teams working in Gondar reported that at least 22 children were saved from starvation by this program, while many more were saved from hunger and the onset of long-term health problems. 

The program’s significant success has led to other children being referred by their doctors. Roughly 350 children – from newborn to five years old – and approximately 100 pregnant mothers receive ICEJ-sponsored meals daily. “Based on the past 18 month’s experience, ICEJ’s supplemental feeding program has proven to be vital to the health of the children in Gondar and extremely cost effective,” the Jewish Agency leadership said in a letter to the ICEJ. “We deeply appreciate ICEJ’s past generosity.” 

At the same time, the cost and availability of food throughout eastern Africa has risen dramatically due to a massive plague of locusts which has devastated agricultural output. Therefore, it is more urgent than ever for Ethiopian aliyah to resume and increase, bringing all those still waiting home to Israel at last! 

" ...Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:40

Israel to welcome another 400 Ethiopian immigrants on ICEJ-sponsored flights

After months of delay, in large part due to the lack of a new government, Israel will start welcoming another 400 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants this Spring on flights sponsored by the ICEJ. The renewal of the Ethiopian aliyah will give new hope to some 8,000 members of the Falash Mura community still in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa waiting – some for up to 20 years now – to be reunited with their families already in Israel.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been sponsoring the Ethiopian aliyah flights over recent years, bringing home nearly 2,000 members of the ancient Israelite community since the government decided in 2015 to allow the last remnant of Ethiopian Jewry to return. Although many converted to Christianity over recent generations, often under economic duress, they are being allowed to move to Israel under a policy of family reunification. Most of those living in tough conditions in the transit camps have close relatives among the 140,000 Ethiopian Jews already in Israel.

Senior Israeli and Jewish Agency officials have assured the ICEJ that as soon as a new government is formed, they will work diligently to bring home all those remaining Ethiopian Jews eligible to make aliyah within the next couple years. This means the ICEJ must be ready to assist with these increased flights as the historic Ethiopian Jewish return to Israel draws to a close.

Give today to the Aliyah work of the ICEJ!

The Warmth of Companionship

A Time to Embrace
After a long ten-week lockdown, the residents of the ICEJ’s Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa were finally able to leave their apartments and start coming together again in late May. The first gathering was to celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost) in the community dining hall. It was a refreshing time of just being together once more!

Rivka, one of our dear survivors, entered the room with tearful eyes and said: “These are tears of joy! I am so very happy to see everyone again in good health.”

The atmosphere was quite festive. Everyone came in their best outfit, ready to enjoy this traditional Jewish holiday together. The chefs prepared a delicious meal fit for royalty, and the whole evening turned out very special. But the greatest blessing of all was finally being able to see and speak to one another in person. They had really missed the warmth of each other’s companionship.

Another Haifa Home resident, Mania Herman, was so moved by being able to connect with everyone again that she wrote a very touching poem:

Meeting again!
Finally, the residents of the Haifa Home meet again
After they were locked up in their homes due to the awful Coronavirus
Thank God, that the “very unwelcome guest” did not visit us
With God’s help it passed us by

How nice and pleasant it is to meet in the dining room with friends
Together sharing food and words
We hope that we will meet each other also in the future from time to time
And at other events and parties

We wish everyone health, a good mood, and new perspectives
We will share experiences in a great atmosphere
And welcome guests will visit us again with joy
We wish Shimon and the (ICEJ) team that provided all our needs with a generous heart,
good health and a willing heart to serve, now and in the future

Celebrating Life
Gestures of love and attention do wonders to the human heart. With the recent opening of our new activity center at the Haifa Home, the ICEJ caregiver team has been organizing birthday parties for the residents, complete with balloons, decorations, cakes and music. It was a special thrill to surprise several residents with unexpected birthday parties. Taking time to celebrate the life of each resident brings such joy and happiness into their lives!

When we brought Rita to the activity center for ‘a cup of coffee’, to her delight she discovered a surprise party to honour her 86th birthday.

“You made my day. I feel so special, loved and appreciated on this special day for me,” she kept saying.

Art with Colour
In the art room we installed at the Haifa Home, some of our residents create the most colourful art projects. Our art therapist, Claudia, is a Jewish immigrant from Colombia whose own family history was impacted by the Holocaust. So she is great help to the survivors as they create their own masterpieces. 

Bluma, even with her dimming eyesight, is found every afternoon in the art room working on a new art project. Recently, she made a small case for her medicines and a vase for the beautiful tulips she received as a gift from friends.

 

Aliyah… Better Late Than Never
Over recent months, we welcomed two new residents to the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors. Meir made aliyah to Israel from Romania only three years ago, while Renate, originally from Germany, came to Israel seven years ago from the United States, where she had lived for five decades.

Both new residents are still facing the challenge of adjusting to a new country, culture and language at an advanced age. It was very brave of them to make Aliyah in their latter years, and we are thankful to have these two new residents join our caring community.

A Time to Refrain from Embracing… Again
Unfortunately, the joy of reconnecting with each other in the dining hall did not last long. Even after dividing the residents in different shifts, the decision was made to close the community dining room due to the second wave of Corona infections now hitting Israel.

It is very difficult for these elderly residents to deal with this second round of Corona lockdowns, not only for health reasons but largely because of the loneliness they have to endure. Having to stay isolated in their rooms, this is a scary feeling for many Holocaust survivors, because their minds instinctively relive the horrific memories of the war years.

Therefore, we ask you to pray for all the residents of our Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors during this difficult time. Please also pray for strength and wisdom for our ICEJ staff here, as we continue to provide the best care possible for each resident during this most unusual period in all of our lives.

And please partner with us by giving your most generous gift today to care for these Holocaust Survivors living out their last days here in the Jewish homeland.

To learn more about how your donation can help, click here!

ICEJ launches RESCUE 250 campaign

This week the ICEJ sponsored two more Aliyah flights from Russian-speaking countries, bringing another 66 Jewish immigrants home to Israel. We have now brought well over 1000 Jews to Israel on ‘evacuation flights’ over the past four months of the Corona crisis. And to build on this remarkable achievement, we are now calling on our Christian friends and supporters worldwide to join us in helping more Jews reach Israel safely through our “Rescue250” campaign.

The Rescue250 campaign is a challenge to Christian supporters of Israel around the globe to partner with the ICEJ is keeping up our current pace of flying at least 250 Jews per month home to Israel while the Coronavirus pandemic is still severely impacting the world. This is both a prophetic mandate and a humanitarian mission, and we welcome your involvement in making this miracle happen. Learn more on how you can be a part of this urgent campaign at our Rescue250 central at: on.icej.org/rescue250

Each arriving family of late has their own inspiring story on how they came to make the move to Israel. One family which landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday this week included a seven year-old child in need of life-saving cancer treatments in Israel – and we will have more on that very touching story soon.

Meantime, the Veksler family just arrived from the far eastern part of Russia after spending years longing to come to Israel. But when they finally got ready for the big move, Corona hit, and what happened from there is very typical of the Jewish families we are helping right now.

Vitaly Veksler and his wife Valentine have three beautiful daughters – Sarah, Emma and Vita. They are from Khabarovsk, a city way over near Japan. Vitaly also has a sister, Svetlana, and young niece, Elizabeth, who lived in Vladivostok, also in the Russian Far East. The whole extended family of seven people decided last year to make Aliyah together, and originally planned to fly to Israel in May. But because of Corona, their flight was cancelled and they were left in limbo.

However, thanks to the determined efforts of Israeli and Jewish Agency officials, the chance arose for them to get on board a rescue flight, sponsored by the Christian Embassy.

“We are very grateful for this, and that on June 30 we will already be in Israel,” Vitaly assured.

“From my childhood, I knew about my Jewish roots and I was proud to be a part of a great nation,” he explained. “I thought about Aliyah for a very long time, but there was always something stopping me – either work or another child or building a house. But thoughts about Israel were always in my mind, and I searched a lot of information about Aliyah.”

Vitaly credits the Jewish Agency office in his hometown of Khabarovsk with playing a big role in the Aliyah of his family. “We got a lot of consultations there, participated in seminars, met online with people living in Israel,” he said.

Still, he has moved his family to a country that is completely new to them.

“The first two weeks in Israel we will be in quarantine,” Viltaly noted. “We have never been to Israel before, but after quarantine we really want to see the country and then hopefully settle down in Rehovot.”

There are many other Jewish families, like the Vekslers, who had planned to move to Israel over recent months, and even quit their jobs and cancelled their apartment leases already, but due to Corona they are stranded without home or finances.

In addition, the COVID-19 threat, along with rising antisemitism, has actually increased interest in making Aliyah among Jewish communities worldwide.

So Israel and the Jewish Agency are arranging “evacuation flights” to bring new immigrants approved for Aliyah, and is turning to the ICEJ for help with funding these flights. Priority is being given to those facing urgent health concerns, rising antisemitism, and poor socio-economic conditions.

The ICEJ flew 1,000 Jewish immigrants home to Israel between February and June, which is a remarkable rate of 250 olim (newcomers) per month during the Corona crisis. We are now challenging our friends and supporters to help us maintain that pace in the critical months ahead, when Aliyah is expected to increase.

So help us bring at least 250 Jews on Aliyah “rescue flights” to Israel in the coming month. Join us today at: on.icej.org/rescue250

And follow our progress in this urgent Aliyah campaign at the same Rescue250 central!

German Christians Give Hands-On Help to Israelis in Need

The ICEJ has long-standing relations with Pitchon Lev (“Open Heart”), an Israeli charity which operates three food distribution centers for the poor in the greater Tel Aviv area. As part of our on-going cooperation, the Christian Embassy for years has provided a van for them to make food deliveries. And from time to time, we send volunteer teams to help with their weekly ‘market’ for disadvantaged families.

During a tour through Israel before the Corona crisis hit, an ICEJ tour group from Germany spent a morning helping out at one of these distribution points set up each Thursday in the underground parking lot of a busy shopping center in Rishon LeZion. Here, volunteers come every week to pack bags of groceries and other items that are given to about one thousand “shoppers” – single parents, new immigrants, pensioners and other struggling families approved by social welfare to receive the food baskets. For only a few shekels, they come away with lots of food and a better feeling about themselves because they paid for their goods.

The German group began their hands-on experience by gathering around a van, decorated with the ICEJ logo and the Hebrew words “Israel, you are not alone”. For many years, ICEJ-Germany has been sponsoring the delivery van for Pitchon Lev. One staff member told the German visitors that, “without it, we would be unable to collect the goods that companies and farms donate to our three distribution centers in the country”.

Normally, several groups of volunteers help pack and distribute bread, vegetables, canned food, dairy products and other groceries. Yet on this day, the different packing stations were manned only by the German volunteers and a few retired Israelis who join in every week. “Without you, this distribution could not have taken place today”, assured the Pitchon Lev staffer.

The foreign visitors were excited to help out in such practical ways. With great enthusiasm, they collected the different goods and packed them in bags and shopping trolleys brought by the shoppers.

“I speak Russian and I could greet many of the recipients”, said Angelika Bauersachs.

Constanze Werner, age 15, added: “It is great to help people directly, to actually do something and not just donate money. It was very saddening to see so much poverty.”

An elderly Israeli man named Gabi has been volunteering at the Pitchon Lev weekly markets for 20 years now. His mother taught him at a young age to help the poor, he explained. “I grew up in Morocco. When I was four years old, I accompanied my mother taking food to the needy using a small cart. This has stuck with me.”

His friend Alexander shared his own reasons for serving at the market. “When my daughter got divorced, she and her three children received help here. If you receive help, you need to give help in return”, he said.

Originally from Romania, Alexander fought in the 1967 Six Day War and suffered a head injury that has lingered with him ever since. “But do I want to sit at home and complain? No, I get up and do something!” he insisted. “I want to thank the Christians who support Pitchon Lev with their donations”, Alexander added. “Well done! Everyone who gives is a blessing!”

Meantime, there is an exciting update to report. Thanks to the generous support of Christians worldwide, the ICEJ has now upgraded our Pitchon Lev delivery van to a refrigerated truck, which is already being used to pick up and deliver even bigger and fresher loads of donated food items for the poor. And yes, the ICEJ logo is displayed on the side of the delivery truck to let everyone know Christians support Israel and care for her needy!
 

Give your best gift today to comfort and bless the Jewish people!

Here I am to Serve

As a member of the ICEJ staff from the far-away Pacific rim, I made a decision early on to endure the Corona pandemic by remaining in Israel. And what a wise decision it was, as Israel has been one of the most proactive and safest countries in responding to this serious health menace. Many foreign volunteers in Israel returned to their home countries out of fear of closed borders. Meanwhile, many social welfare organisations in Israel found themselves unable to fully function due to workers locked down at home.

But at the ICEJ, we sought out and found many wonderful opportunities to help meet urgent needs throughout the country, especially among the elderly. In one instance, we have partnered over recent months with Hineni, a charitable dining hall serving the poor and elderly in Jerusalem.

A large number of Israelis live below the poverty line and are forced to make everyday choices between paying for food, rent, medicine, or paying their bills. As a result, over 400,000 Israeli families suffer from hunger, including 700,000 children among them. In response, Hineni has created a professional catering kitchen, where every day hundreds of hot meals are cooked, packed and distributed throughout the community to assist those in need.

The heart of the Christian Embassy is to care for the Jewish people by being a ministry of comfort according to Isaiah 40:1 “Comfort. O comfort My people, says your God.” When asked by our AID department to help serve as a volunteer at Hineni, I found myself replying, “Here I am!” I love that response: Hineni is Hebrew for “Here I Am!” Many people in the Bible declared the same answer when asked by God to carry out a task. “Here I am to serve”, or “Here I am to help”, is a beautiful response to have, especially in these difficult times.

I believe a strong nation is reflected in how they treat their most vulnerable citizens. Over the past two months of serving food to those in need, I have found that we not only provided nutritious meals to the most vulnerable, but we also were able to do so in a dignified and respectful manner. So often, individuals who seek food from welfare organisations are stigmatised, ostracised and prejudged. However, we have been able to create a safe space in the heart of Jerusalem where peoples of all social classes, ethnicities and religious backgrounds can meet, share and fellowship over a freshly cooked meal.

It has been a wonderful privilege to be a part of the ICEJ team in Israel during this global lockdown and to partner with local Israeli NGOs to care for the needy. Serving up freshly cooked meals with an aroma of spices that fills the room, that is a beautiful atmosphere in which to serve the Lord and His people. Seeing the faces of those that are hungry and poor here in Israel, and then being able to provide for their needs through a hot meal and extra food to take home is a memory I will forever cherish.

You can join us in serving the people of Israel at this critical time!

Give your best gift today to comfort and bless the Jewish people!

The God Who Heals Nations

"For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land." (Haggai 2:6)

The prophet Haggai foresaw a time of global shaking. He saw not only the earth but also the heavens shaken. A shaking heaven does not mean that the heavenly dwelling place of God would be shaken in any way. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His rule and throne is everlasting. It rather refers to the heavenly realms where principalities and rulers of darkness influence our world (Ephesians 6:12), which shall be in an uproar such that demonic principalities even over nations become unsettled, possibly leading even to changes in government.

We are definitely in a time of unprecedented global shaking. The COVID-19 virus is causing global upheaval, resulting in an unseen flood of unusual government decisions worldwide. Like never before, a plague is impacting every part of our planet and affecting every nation on earth all at once.

Also the riots and demonstrations caused by the recent death of an African-American man, George Floyd, are spreading like a wildfire around the world. Its greatest, most disconcerting impact is felt in the USA, where it has already enflamed the existing polarization within society and even could sway the upcoming presidential elections. Many of these demonstrations have been taken over by destructive forces that do not seek racial harmony and the peace of a nation, but rather their destruction. I personally sense much of the violent fallout is of an evil spiritual origin and thus needs to be addressed in spiritual battle through prayer.

Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the riots together are opening a national wound in America and around the world that cries out for healing. And it is exactly here that the word of God gives us hope.

“[If] My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

This verse teaches us that prayer can lead to the healing and restoration of entire nations. Prayer is not just a weapon to fight our own personal wars regarding our finances, health or family. Prayer can be a strategic missile with national impact and combined with fasting it can break any yoke and stronghold. God inspires us to think on these levels.

“Ask of me,” God says, “and I will give you the nations for your inheritance.” (Psalms 2:8) When Daniel prayed in Babylon for the dispersed people of Israel, his prayer impacted angelic principalities which ruled in the heavenly realms over the world empires of Greece and Persia. That means focused and intentional prayer can shift the atmosphere in nations and regions.

One example of this is what happened in Germany during the late 1980s. After World War II, Germany was severely judged and experienced a national division into two parts. East Germany was controlled and suppressed by the Soviet Union (with the East German region eventually overseen by a KGB officer named Vladimir Putin). The other side was part of the free Western world led by the United States of America. The fault-line of the Cold War, between East and West, ran right through Germany and especially through the city of Berlin. Germans spied on each other and were even trained to fight each other in case of war.

Even still in mid-1989, the reunification of Germany looked impossible. Some of the prophetic voices who foresaw a unification like the British Bible teacher David Pawson and Loren Cunningham of YWAM were laughed at by pastors in Germany. What separated Germany was not just a national rift, but global political blocks that were willing to defend and fight for their piece of Germany. As a child, I well remember the US military maneuvers close to my home town near Stuttgart.

When I was in Germany last summer, it was 30 years after reunification, so I talked to pastors and leaders from east and west and was greatly encouraged by what I heard. Already in the late 1970s, prayer groups emerged in particular in Eastern communist Germany who prayed for the healing of our land. In the year before reunification, various individuals and prayer groups, led by God and unbeknownst to the others, went to the wall and prayed that it might fall. On both sides people held Communion at the Berlin Wall, not knowing others were doing the same.

The demonstrations that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall actually started out of the Monday prayer meetings of the Nikolai church in Leipzig, a weekly prayer gathering that started already in 1982. And God answered these prayers!

What really happened on the night of 9 November 1989, no one knows until today. But everyone agrees it was a miracle when an East German high-ranking official declared the border to be open.

I am writing this today as the nations of the world need healing. There is a wall going through the United States – and I am not talking about the wall that secures the southern border of the USA. But it is a wall that separates and polarizes the nation and can endanger not only the fabric of America but the global leadership of the USA as a “nation under God.” America needs our prayers more than ever before. In particular, we Christians in the Western world owe this to the USA more than any others as they stood with us for decades.

God also can heal and reunite Korea as he healed and reunited Germany. North Korea's capital Pyongyang was once known as the “Jerusalem of Asia” as a revival greatly touched that nation. What looks today impossible is possible with God.

The key, however, lays not with politicians but with the people of God. Note that it does not say “If the President” or “if the government” or “if the parliament”, but God says “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray …. I will heal their land.”

The key to the healing of our nations lays in the hands of ordinary people like you and me who will stand at these walls of division and call for them to fall in the name of Jesus!

Please join us in prayer for the USA, for Korea and for Israel. Maybe your own nation needs a touch of God. God is the healer of nations. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” says James 5:16. Our prayers can break the demonic powers of division, liberalism and racism, because Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Nothing is impossible for him when his people pray. Let us join hands and do this together!

God bless you from Jerusalem as we change the world together!

Also, please look for our Isaiah 62 prayer groups in your country, find one of the Zoom prayer groups offered by some of our ICEJ national branches, and consider joining our Global Prayer Gathering from Jerusalem every Wednesday or our new monthly Rosh Chodesh global prayer movement. There are others like you who want to join their voice and faith with fellow believers to truly impact their nations. Click here for more information on these prayer groups!

You can also watch two fascinating videos about how God was moving in the hearts of His people on each side of the Berlin wall!

WATCH THE EAST SIDE      &       WATCH THE WEST SIDE

Resilience in Adversity

Imagine you are a mother on a leisurely stroll down a walking path with your eight-year-old son. Suddenly, you hear the all-too-familiar sound of a faint voice. Your heart beats faster! It feels like a thousand butterflies swirling in your stomach. You know what is coming next. The low sound quickly turns into a commanding voice: Tseva Adom!, Tseva Adom! (“Color Red!”).

There is not even enough time for the siren. Instinctively, you know a rocket is coming and you only have a few seconds to find shelter. But your small son starts running after an even younger girl on the path and says: “Mommy, Mommy, she lives far away – I will go and take care of her.” Then he realizes, “but who will take care of me?”, and returns to his mother.

Sadly, this is a true story. Indeed, it is the harsh reality which Israelis in the southern Israeli town of S’dot Negev live with every day.

S’dot Negev is located within three kilometers of the very volatile Gaza border. Civilians here are confronted by the threat of underground terror tunnels popping up into their area, the constant challenge of explosive balloons flying overhead, and the ever-present fear of Hamas rocket attacks. At times, their area has been battered by barrages of 300 rockets in one day!

In response, the S’dot Negev Resilience Centre was opened to provide a place of refuge and healing for traumatized families in the community and surrounding region, offering short-term counselling and coping strategies. The clinic manager, Esther Marcos, says their approach is “therapy and treatment for after the effect, but a lot of preventative work as well”.

The work of the Resilience Centre has expanded from four to now twelve qualified therapists working with children, families and groups. It has seen a recent influx of teenagers and men who are suffering from stress.

The Resilience Centre needed to be enlarged, but first required a safe room to shelter people during a rocket attack. The ICEJ learned of this need and leaped into action.

“We felt such an urgency to help when we understood that those suffering psychological stress were left unprotected when looking for help and healing”, recalled Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah.

Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Garth and Tina Coonce of TCT Christian television network in partnership with ICEJ-USA, we were able to build the necessary safe room. It is made of reinforced steel and can withstand a direct rocket hit.

During a special dedication ceremony this week, an ICEJ team watched as a mezuzah was placed on the door frame along with a dedication plaque expressing our hope that this safe room would “provide protection and comfort to our dear Israeli friends”.

Nicole Yoder immediately noticed how much larger and nicer the whole remodeled facility was now compared to her initial visit. “I can hardly recognize the place,” she told her hosts. “It is great to see what else we helped to happen by giving the shelter room. May this room provide peace of mind.”

Concluding the dedication, Esther Marcos assured us: “The children and families are saying thank you!”

Because of the support of our faithful donors, the ICEJ continues to impact many lives in the Negev and all across this nation.

Please help us to bless and comfort Israel today!

Jewish Immigrants Relieved to be in Israel

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been at the center of a remarkable wave of Aliyah over recent months despite the Corona travel bans, bringing nearly 900 Jewish immigrants home to Israel since February, including a flight this week with another 41 Russian-speaking Jews. Many are escaping very difficult conditions, and are both thrilled and relieved they have made it to safety in Israel.

The ICEJ’s partners at the Jewish Agency for Israel are referring to the flights coming now as “evacuation flights,” chartered specially by the Israeli government to bring Israeli citizens back home and to welcome new immigrants. No other travelers are allowed on board, because of the current health restrictions both here and abroad.

JAFI is prioritizing those currently coming based on a series of factors, such as urgent health concerns, threats to personal safety due to rising antisemitism, and poor socio-economic conditions. Many of the olim (newcomers) arriving now were planning to come in March or April, and had already sold or left their apartments and quit their jobs, but due to Corona they have been stranded without home or finances.

“Our assistance for these families at this time is crucial, otherwise they would be left in limbo – without a home or income – and dependent on the charity of others in a time of economic crisis” explained Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid & Aliyah. “Once they land in Israel, we are able to help provide for their basic needs during their first two weeks of quarantine until their government absorption benefits start and they can begin building a new life in the land.”

Belyaev FamilyFor Ekaterina Belyaev and her family, it was the birth of her daughter four years ago that sparked their desire to come home to Israel.

During the Soviet era, she explained, her family had suppressed their Jewish roots. But after her daughter was born in 2016, she started reading books on parenting in Russian and noticed all the best authors on the subject were Jewish. This drove her to start attending Jewish community events in Moscow and to inquire into making aliyah. Her husband was very supportive, and they were scheduled to come to Israel earlier this year. But then they got delayed by the pandemic and have been in limbo.

But now they are here, waiting for the end of their two-week quarantine and eager to start anew in the Jewish homeland.

“In Israel, we want to find ourselves, to work and contribute to society,” Ekaterina said. “We know that our daughter will be happy here, because Israel is a developed society and women can realize themselves in any sphere.”

Another new arrival, David Movsesyan, 34, knew of his family’s Jewish heritage from a young age but he only discovered in 2017 while browsing the InternetDavid Movseyan that he could move to Israel. As he collected documents to prove his Jewishness, he learned the history of his own family and now has photo albums and mementos that will preserve their memories.

“Right now, I’m sitting in quarantine in a hotel,” he said. “But I already feel a deep connection with Israel and I’m starting life anew here. I want to try something new, like a new profession, and I have a lot of dreams.”

David thanked the Jewish Agency and all the Christians who helped him make Aliyah, adding: “For the first time in my life, I feel that the state is taking care of me.”

The Christian Embassy will be sponsoring another aliyah ‘evacuation flight’ next week from the FSU, and we are aware of one particular family of five that needs rescuing from a very dire situation developing in a city well above the Arctic Circle. Connecting flights have already been arranged to bring the father, mother and three small children out of a closed disaster area and all the way to Israel.

With next week’s flight group, the ICEJ will have sponsored aliyah flights for nearly 950 Jewish immigrants to reach Israel during the past three months of the Corona crisis. Yet many more are anxiously awaiting their turn to come, and we need your help to bring them home. The door of Aliyah remains open, and you can make a huge difference in the life of a Jewish family today.

Please support the Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ.
Give today at on.icej.org/aliyah

ICEJ brings another 41 Jews home to Israel

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem brought another 41 Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants to Israel on Tuesday, many on connecting flights that originated in cities all across the vast former Soviet Union. The ICEJ has now brought home nearly 900 Jews on Aliyah flights over the past three months of the Corona travel bans.

As the Coronavirus spread earlier this year and international flights were cancelled around the globe, it appeared that Aliyah to Israel would be suspended. Yet surprisingly, interest among Jewish families in coming to Israel has actually increased, and the ICEJ has been in a unique position to help the Jewish Agency bring them home on emergency chartered flights.

The flight on Tuesday included Jews from across the former Soviet republics. Many had to first take connecting flights of six to eight hours from eastern Siberia and other distant regions to reach Moscow, before the entire group could make the final leg to Tel Aviv together. Since this involves a permanent move to a new country, the Christian Embassy also has paid for extra luggage allowances for these families.

With this week’s flight group, the ICEJ has now sponsored Aliyah flights for 896 Jewish immigrants to reach Israel during the past three months of the Corona crisis. And many more are waiting to come.

In fact, Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog recently said that there will very likely be “a big wave in Aliyah” in coming weeks and months, as many Jewish families abroad view Israel’s situation as better than their current countries – both health-wise and economically.

The Jewish Agency also is requesting that the ICEJ assist with yet another Aliyah flight next week from the Russian-speaking regions to our North, but we need your help! The door of Aliyah is still open, and you can make a major difference in the life of a Jewish family today.

Please support the Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ by giving today!

 

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