New Immigrants receive welcome gift bags
By: Anastasiya Gooding

Today, Jewish people from many diverse backgrounds are returning to Israel from around the world, each with their own personal stories. Some had been planning the move for years, while others were forced to leave everything behind – save a few items in a suitcase – as they fled from war to Israel.

Each olim (new immigrant) arrives with a dream to build a brighter future for their families in the Jewish homeland. This always starts with finding a new home, but how and where?

One option is the “First Home in the Homeland” project, which was launched by the kibbutzim network in 1989. ‘First Home’ has welcomed hundreds of immigrants and given them a soft-landing spot while they learn the Hebrew language and make decisions about where to settle permanently.

Newly arrived Jewish families are welcomed to the kibbutzim – Israel’s renown system of collective farms – where they study Hebrew for their first six months. Many stay on for a full year if there is space on the kibbutz. This program also provides a built-in community, with mentoring and other assistance from local kibbutzniks whom they encounter every day.

Currently, some 48 kibbutzim in northern and southern Israel are providing homes for Jewish families who have just made Aliyah.

Last year, 210 immigrant families benefited from this open door. This year, there has already been a sudden influx of 130 new families due to the crisis in Ukraine, which has also stirred immigration from several other Russian-speaking countries. Thus, the program has been scrambling to find additional farming communities which could offer apartments. In response, ten new kibbutzim quickly joined the First Home in the Homeland program. Yet much work remained for the coordinators urgently seeking to prepare places for the new arrivals. What to do?

new kitchen appliances

To start with, local kibbutz families donated furniture in good condition for the open apartments. However, new furniture and appliances – such as beds, kitchen tables, study desks, chairs, clothing closets, refrigerators, air conditioners, and many other items – were immediately required to furnish the apartments. The Christian Embassy heard of this urgent need and stepped in to help cover the budget.

Our gift went to ensure full furnishings for 50 apartments in Kibbutz Revivim and Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh in the south, as well as in kibbutzim near Nahariya in the North. In one instance, we helped furnish apartments in a vacant hotel/hostel with small one-room apartments, where connecting doors were opened between them so the new families would have two units each to make their stay more comfortable.

Nicole Yoder with immigrants

In addition to donating these home furnishings, the ICEJ also is providing the new immigrant families with gift packages of household items, such as blankets, sheets and towels. The welcome baskets were recently delivered to 20 families during a visit by the ICEJ Aid team to Kibbutz Revivim, while the other 30 families will receive their baskets soon.

The ICEJ delegation was warmly welcomed at Revivim, where the immigrants were amazed to hear that the gifts were coming from caring Christians worldwide. After just a short few months in Israel, each family was already able to introduce themselves in Hebrew, and there were smiles and warm cheers all around.

Despite being located in the Negev desert, their new home of Revivim has been turned into a very green, charming place, with modest homes and a peaceful atmosphere for more than 800 residents. The kibbutz is a mixed community of Russian, Brazilian and Sephardi Jewish families, Anglo-Saxon immigrants, young Israelis completing their national service, and now the new Ukrainian and Russian-speaking immigrants.

Thus, your generous support has enabled us to welcome 50 new Jewish immigrant families who recently fled to Israel with very little, and to provide them with fully furnished homes. Many more immigrants need our assistance as they establish themselves in their ancestral homeland. Thank you for helping us ensure that they are warmly welcomed and provided for as they adjust to their new life here in Israel.

Donate to our Aliyah & Integration efforts today.