Bringing Jews Home From All Directions!Published on: 31.8.2021
By: Anastasiya Gooding
Over the first six months of 2021, Israel has welcomed more than 7,000 new Jewish immigrants, marking a rise of 14% 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 20% 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 1,600 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 500 newcomers from Central and Eastern Europe.
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!