By: Anastasiya Gooding
Ksenia and Emilia were determined to reach Israel.

The year 2021 is quickly turning into one of our most fruitful seasons of Aliyah ever, as the ICEJ has already sponsored flights for over 880 Jewish immigrants since January. This includes a group of 302 Ethiopian Jews who landed in February, a flight with 226 Jewish immigrants from across the former Soviet Union who came in March, and then a third flight with 102 olim (newcomers) from Kazakhstan who just arrived in April.  
This is remarkable when you consider it has happened during a time of corona lockdowns and travel bans, including the first-ever closure of Ben-Gurion Airport. But thankfully, they have been able to make the journey home to Israel on ‘rescue flights’ arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel and sponsored by the ICEJ. 
Many of these new arrivals were planning to make Aliyah last year, but were delayed by lockdowns in Israel. Some had already sold their homes and quit their jobs but were left in limbo when Ben-Gurion was completely shut down in January and February. Yet the skies are now opening back up, and the ICEJ is in a position to help bring home an expected surge in Aliyah to Israel. 
Many of the Russian-speaking immigrants also needed lengthy connecting flights, traversing up to eight time zones from across the former Soviet republics, before boarding the final four-hour flight to Tel Aviv. 
Among the 226 Jews who arrived in March were Ksenia and her daughter Emilia. They came all the way from Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, and will be settling into a kibbutz in the Negev desert as part of the “first home in the homeland” program. Ksenia has a master’s degree in land use engineering and hopes to see the Negev bloom. 
Ksenia has always dreamed of making Aliyah but every time she tried, she constantly ran into delays. Last year, amidst the corona pandemic, her mother and younger sister managed to arrive in Israel, which motivated Ksenia to finally make it to Israel as well. After making all the needed preparations, Ksenia and Emilia were scheduled to come in November, but then Ben-Gurion Airport went into lockdown and they were forced to wait once more. 
With no hope in sight, they became discouraged until they heard the amazing news that a ‘rescue flight’ was scheduled to leave from Moscow on March 15. After much perseverance, Ksenia and her daughter finally reached their new home in Israel. 
The Christian Embassy has now supported Aliyah flights for over 880 Jewish immigrants since the start of 2021, including some 502 Ethiopian Jews as part of “Operation Rock of Israel.” Most of these Ethiopian immigrants waited for several decades in transit camps to be reunited with their families in Israel. In making Aliyah, they are answering an ancient biblical call to return to their homeland which has carried down through many generations, and the ICEJ is thrilled to take an active part in this prophetic mission. 
“Supporting Aliyah is one of the core missions of the Christian Embassy, and this season of the corona pandemic has actually been one of the most critical phases of our four decades of involvement in bringing Jews back to their homeland”, said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “Indeed, corona has given added meaning to the calling of Israel to be a ‘safe haven’ for the Jewish people.” 
There are still thousands of Jews waiting to make the move to Israel. Interest in Aliyah is dramatically on the rise, as many Jewish families worldwide now view Israel as safer health-wise and better positioned for economic recovery than other countries. Israeli and Jewish Agency officials anticipate up to 250,000 new Jewish immigrants to arrive over the next three to five years. 
Since we were founded in 1980, the ICEJ has assisted more than 160,000 Jewish immigrants to return to Israel from all around the world, and this is a work which is continuing to expand in 2021. Please help us bring more Jews home to Israel in the days ahead by supporting the ICEJ’s many Aliyah efforts. 

A grateful Jewish family on their way from Kazakhstan to Israel in April.

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