2023 review

By ICEJ staff writers

The year 2023 saw modern-day Israel turn 75 years old. At the outset, this was to be a year of celebration for Israel. Internal divisions, however, dampened the festivities, and then – in a flash – all joy dissipated when Hamas terrorists poured into southern Israel on that dark day of 7 October.

Nonetheless, as we look back over the past twelve months, we see that the ICEJ – thanks to our faithful supporters worldwide – was able to stand strong and bring hope and comfort to all sectors of Israeli society, while also helping thousands of Jewish immigrants reach the promised land. We are so grateful for you partnering with us in this mission. Have a look at what we accomplished together in 2023.


Winter Ukrainian Youth Camp

The surge in Aliyah in 2022, largely due to the war in Ukraine, rolled over into 2023. During January, the ICEJ continued to support in many innovative ways in this urgent wave of ingathering, such as assisting with Aliyah winter camps for Ukrainian Jewish youth in the safety of the nearby Baltic states. The youth, aged 12 to 17, quickly established friendships, embraced their heritage and learned all they could about making Aliyah from Israeli counsellors.

Holocaust survivors

January 27th also marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day and at an event held in Haifa, the ICEJ was recognized in the presence of Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen with an award for our work with Holocaust survivors. Several dozen residents from the ICEJ’s Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors were present, and a group of them took to the stage to perform a special song together.

Meanwhile, our annual Envision Pastors and Leaders Conference drew 100 delegates from 25 countries up to Jerusalem, while another 130 joined online. Envision 2023 featured prominent Christian and Jewish speakers from Israel and abroad giving rich biblical teachings and informative briefings on current events, along with visits to key sites in Israel.


Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel

On 1 February, there was an air of expectancy at Ben Gurion Airport as two flights from Ethiopia arrived carrying Ethiopian Jewish immigrants young and old. The ICEJ assisted 120 of these new Ethiopian immigrants with pre-flight arrangements and flights to Israel. This occurred even while the ICEJ was still helping hundreds of Ukrainian Jews make Aliyah to Israel one year after the Ukrainian war broke out.

In February, the world also was shocked by the devastation caused by a massive earthquake in Turkey, and Israel rushed to Turkey’s aid. The ICEJ, demonstrating Christian compassion, quickly rallied behind an Israeli relief organization to bring aid, such as warm clothing, first-aid kits, oxygen tanks, defibrillators, and other emergency medical equipment, to some of the hardest hit areas.


Aliyah seminars

Recognizing the urgent need to continue helping Ukrainian Jews immigrate safely to Israel, the ICEJ began sponsoring life-saving Aliyah seminars, giving desperate Ukrainian Jewish families a glimmer of hope and a path to safety.

Ben Gurion airport also was a hive of activity again on 30 March, as the Christian Embassy welcomed 155 Ethiopian Jews arriving on an ICEJ-sponsored Aliyah flight!

Pesach gift  packing

Meanwhile, ICEJ staff were busy preparing and distributing nearly 800 beautiful holiday gift packages ahead of Passover in early April. These gift parcels included towels, soaps, gift cards with voucher coupons, and many other food and household items. Many of the recipients were new immigrants from Ethiopia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, as well as Holocaust survivors, pensioners, single mothers, and families living below the poverty line.

During April, the ICEJ supported a weekend Aliyah seminar for young Jewish families in the Baltic states, held at a hotel in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Aliyah seminar drew 52 potential olim who enjoyed Shabbat together while also listening to teachers from Israel sharing about Passover and Shavuot, as well as the main theme for the weekend – life in Israel.

family of five

In addition, the ICEJ assisted a family of five from eastern Ukraine in flying to Israel as part of a medical rescue. The grandfather needed regular dialysis treatment and required special help on this flight. The ICEJ was there to cover the flight costs for all five family members and the urgent medical care and housing needed upon arrival in Israel.

Meantime, our ICEJ Homecare team encountered special moments as they visited the elderly immigrants in their care, taking along thoughtful Passover gifts for them to enjoy during this special holiday season.  



The month of May saw Israel turn 75, but it also started with a bang, with more than 800 rockets and mortars raining down on southern Israel from Gaza in only three days. As the rocket barrage began, the ICEJ was quick to respond by delivering a mobile bomb shelter to a youth center in the Hof Ashkelon region that first afternoon. During this time, the ICEJ also was hosting our annual global leadership conference. Thirty ICEJ leaders from 18 nations arrived in person to Jerusalem, and another 130 delegates from 50 nations joined us online.

The ICEJ also delivered life-saving equipment to one of Israel’s top medical centers. Thanks to your generous donations, the ICEJ was able to donate a blood warmer and three defibrillators to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.


underground shelter

Thanks to our generous donors, the ICEJ was able to renovate two underground bomb shelters in Kibbutz Dorot, located just 8 kilometers (5 miles) from northeast Gaza. Over the years, these shelters had become totally unusable, so contractors set out renovating the bathrooms, adding a small kitchenette area, giving the shelters a fresh coat of paint, and installing ventilation systems with special pumps that remove moisture from the air to prevent dampness and mold.

The ICEJ also brought relief to an elderly Ukrainian Jewish immigrant by purchasing an air conditioner for her when she was finally able to move into a small one-room apartment.

new airconditioner

Her long journey began the previous year with a special ambulance from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine to a nearby former Soviet republic, where she needed to update documents to enable her to travel further to Israel. This process took more than a month, but finally, she was able to fly to Israel accompanied by a medical doctor on an ICEJ-sponsored Aliyah flight.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was also recognized for our humanitarian work at a special celebration held by the Joint Distribution Committee and the Felix M. Warburg Society. Dr. Susan Michael, ICEJ-USA national director, was on hand to receive the prestigious annual Warburg Award at a gala event held in New York City in June. 


Welcoming Ethiopian Jews

As of July, the ICEJ had sponsored Aliyah flights for over 1,000 Jewish immigrants in 2023, including 180 from Ukraine, 200 from the Baltic states, and 270 from Russia and other former Soviet republics, plus another 375 from Ethiopia. On 12 July, ICEJ staff were on the Ben Gurion tarmac eagerly waiting to welcome the arrival of 130 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants making Aliyah on a flight sponsored by the ICEJ.

Over the summer months of June to August, the ICEJ also sponsored three Baltic Summer Camps for Jewish youth held in Latvia and Lithuania. In all, over 1000 Jewish children were expected to participate in the camps, many of them Ukrainian Jews. These camps are essential to learn about life in Israel and set the building blocks for future Aliyah.

When asked by Israeli authorities to help rescue Ethiopian Jews from fighting in Gondar, the ICEJ did not hesitate. A group of 61 Ethiopian Jews eligible for Aliyah were taken care of by the Jewish Agency, and the ICEJ helped to fund their Aliyah flights to Israel and absorption costs once in the land.

Shlomi bomb-shelter

Meanwhile, over the past decade the ICEJ has donated nearly 200 mobile bomb shelters to vulnerable Israeli communities, with most going to towns along the Gaza border area, but we have managed to place some 50 shelters in northern Israel already. Thanks to the generous donations of a Swiss Christian family, we delivered six new bomb shelters to the town of Shlomi, right on the border with Lebanon, which had been hit by a barrage of Hamas rockets at Passover.

Meanwhile, the ICEJ also sponsored recertification courses for licensing new immigrant doctors to practice medicine in Israel. When hearing about the well-worn conditions of the living quarters of new immigrants at Kibbutz Merchavia, we also stepped in to help renovate the homes to make them more comfortable for these newly arrived Jewish families.


Gift package giving to students

The ICEJ’s staff welcomed to Israel a group of 26 Jewish high school students from war-torn Ukraine who arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on a flight sponsored by our supporters worldwide. With these latest arrivals, the ICEJ had funded Aliyah flights for some 813 Jewish immigrants who had left the former Soviet republics so far in 2023 for the safety and hopes of a brighter future in Israel.

It was an extra joy for the ICEJ to partner with local Arab Christians to remember and bless Holocaust survivors with 110 Rosh HaShana gift baskets to start the fall High Holy Days.

Feast of Tabernacles

Then on 29 September, the ICEJ welcomed over 3,000 Christians to Israel for our annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, while several thousand more joined us on our online streaming platform to celebrate under the biblical theme “King of All the Earth.”

October to December

As our week-long Feast celebration concluded on 6 October, the very next morning the nation of Israel was shocked and appalled by the treacherous mass infiltration of Hamas terrorists from Gaza on the Jewish high holy day of Simchat Torah. The ICEJ’s response was immediate, with an ongoing three-pronged approach to helping the Jewish nation, which we sustained over the final three months of 2023.

This three-pronged approach included:

Prayer: The ICEJ hosted a daily online Global Prayer Gathering to pray for Israel with thousands joining us every day, plus a 24/7 Rosh Chodesh prayer chain, and recurring Esther Fasts.

Solidarity: ICEJ branches worldwide hosted public rallies and prayer events to stand in solidarity with Israel.

Relief Aid: The ICEJ engaged in numerous activities and projects to bring war relief aid to Israelis still reeling from the events of October 7. This included the following areas of urgent assistance:

ICEJ staff packing food items

The ICEJ helped with urgent food distribution and humanitarian efforts to assist evacuated Israeli families, the elderly, new immigrants, and other needy families nationwide, including: 
• Packing over 14,000 food boxes for evacuated families. 
• Leasing two delivery trucks to distribute food packages to evacuated and disadvantaged families. 
• Providing food and water to first-responders near the Gaza border. 
• BBQ cookouts for those defending the country. 
• Sponsoring a mentoring program and aid basket for 40 vulnerable families from the heavily-impacted areas of Ofakim, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Toy packing

The ICEJ assisted scores of Israeli evacuee families with housing, emergency aid, educational needs, and emotional support, including:  
• Respite days for 450 evacuees, including new immigrants living near the Gaza border and other families from the South hosted at Yad HaShmona. 
• Gift cards for 440 evacuee families from Kfar Aza and Sderot. 
• Hosting 18 evacuees, including with food and emergency items. 
• Meeting basic needs of hundreds of children, including toys, games, mattresses, first aid kits, food, etc. 
• Sponsoring activities, therapy and/or emotional support for some 1,000 evacuee children, some with disabilities. 
• Providing computers for children in 10 evacuee families. 
• Establishing 11 classrooms for evacuated children, with equipment and books. 
• Giving 250 bags packed with toys to children of evacuated families in Haifa. 
• Funding the printing of 4,000 books to help traumatized children in evacuated families, being published by the already re-opened print house in the hard-hit community of Kibbutz Be’eri. 


The ICEJ made a special effort to assist Holocaust survivors during this crisis by: 
• Purchasing emergency food supplies and a back-up generator for Holocaust survivors at the Haifa Home. 
• Providing survivors with mattresses, toiletries, etc. 
• Supplying food for survivors across northern Israel. 

Radio transmitters

The ICEJ donated medical and emergency equipment, including: 
• Providing 30 paramedics and search & rescue workers with protective helmets and vests, search and recovery tools, first aid and medical intervention equipment, and other emergency supplies. 
• 4 new ambulances, including one for Kibbutz Be’eri. 
• 1 new medi-scooter. 
• 4 medical packs and 4 defibrillators for security officers in Hof Ashkelon. 
• 4 new fire-fighting ATVs to combat recent fires ignited by Hamas rockets hitting the Western Negev. 
• Donating warm clothing, tents, and other outdoor equipment for those on the frontlines. 
• Delivering more sets of special radio transmitters to communities along the Gaza border like those which helped save thousands of lives on October 7.

The ICEJ placed more portable bomb shelters and renovated existing underground shelters in the North and South of the country, including: 
• Ordering 9 new above-ground mobile shelters. 
• Renovating 120 existing underground shelters, including 73 shelters in Shlomi, 41 in Ma’alot-Tarshiha, and 6 in central Israel. 

Trauma training

The ICEJ sponsored trauma counselling and care for hundreds of Israelis severely shaken by the conflict, such as: 
• Providing leadership and resilience training and support to 120 doctors and nurses who are responsible for over 1,500 medical staff. 
• Offering trauma therapy and emotional support to evacuated teens and at-risk young adults. 
• Horse-back riding therapy sessions and equipment for traumatized children. 
• Helping establish a PTSD trauma center in the North for IDF veterans and others. 
• Renovating a treatment center in Jerusalem caring for hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians suffering from PTSD. 

staff fruit picking

The ICEJ staff engaged in hands-on volunteer work to help Israelis in a number of areas, including: 
• Packing food boxes for over 14,000 evacuees, as well as 4,900 toiletry kits for IDF soldiers. 
• Visiting wounded IDF soldiers and civilians, with 19 receiving gift bags. 
• Visiting evacuee families from Kfar Aza and sitting shiva with them. 
• Homecare visits to dozens of the elderly and disabled in need of physical and emotional support. 
• Harvesting fruit trees and crops for farmers in the western Negev. 
• Volunteering to drive pregnant women to the hospital to give birth. 

Many of these urgent war relief efforts over recent months will need to continue into 2024. But we want to take this moment to thank you so much for your incredible support throughout the year of 2023. It is only because of your generosity that the Christian Embassy was able to achieve all that it did, reaching out to many people to bring hope and comfort to a nation still stunned by the hatred and terror surrounding it. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you in the coming year to meet the needs of the nation and people of Israel.