By: Aaron Hecht

Since its founding in 1980, the ICEJ has assisted more than 150,000 Jews to make the journey home to Israel. However, there are Jewish communities in many countries with limited access to information on the process of Aliyah. There are as many as one million Jewish people in Central Asia and Russian Far East alone, with most of them having little or no connection to a wider Jewish community.

From the North
For this reason, the ICEJ is hosting Aliyah Seminars, in cooperation with OFEK, as“fishing trips” to try and meet these scattered remnants and bring them home to Israel. One such seminar is scheduled for early 2020 in the city of Alma Ata (Apple Mountain) in Kazakhstan.

In the meantime, we continue building our relationship with Bilana Shakhar, the Jewish Agency director for the Former Soviet Union (FSU.) According to Shakhar, nearly 7,000 Jewish people will make Aliyah to Israel in 2019, from the greater Moscow metropolitan area alone. This number represents nearly half of all Olim (immigrants) to Israel from Russia and is greater than the number that will immigrate from all of Western Europe or the Americas.

From the West
Another major focus of ICEJ’s Aliyah outreach is in Germany. Some might be surprised to learn that Germany has a very large Jewish population, including several thousand Jewish people who moved there from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.

However, in recent years, these rebuilt communities have been hit by a wave of renewed antisemitism, including a shocking attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle during Yom Kippur services just a few months ago. This attack followed years of increasingly frightening harassment of Jewish people in Germany and has left many German Jews looking at the possibility of leaving the country for good.

“Slowly, one considers whether there might not also be other places on our planet where we Jews could live better,” Max Privorozki, the chairman of the Halle Jewish community who was in the synagogue which was attacked on 7 October, 2018, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “We are observing with unease that antisemitism is becoming increasingly blatant in Germany at great speed. It is no longer embarrassing to openly present oneself as an antisemite.”

ICEJ is looking for ways to assist Jewish people like Max Privorozki fulfill their goal of making Aliyah. In cooperation with OFEK, ICEJ will conduct informational seminars in Germany in the coming months, starting with the city of Dusseldorf. As ICEJ Aliyah Director Howard Flower explained, “This new initiative is the next step our ‘Aliyah from the West’ program.”