Bringing Home Jews from all Directions

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 percent in Aliyah compared to the same time last year. And once again, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has played a significant role in this wave of Aliyah by assisting 20 percent of these olim (newcomers) in reaching the promised land. We can do this amazing work thanks to the generosity of Christians around the world who continually support 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 highlight 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 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 102 Jewish immigrants from Kazakhstan to Israel. Their Aliyah came at a challenging time due to corona-related health rules and travel restrictions, which added complications to obtaining visas and permits for flights. Hence, 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 20 countries during an unprecedented “Aliyah Super Week” at the end of May. The ICEJ was one of the main sponsors of this special weeklong effort by funding flights for 148 of these new immigrants who arrived from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, France, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, the 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 31 as part of the emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel. The Christian Embassy sponsored flights for 99 of these olim. Unfortunately, another 115 members of this 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 remained until Israeli and Indian health authorities agreed it was safe for them to travel to Tel Aviv. They had no means to pay the costs of their housing, food, and medical care and were 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 27. 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 bring Jews home from all directions, just as the Hebrew prophets foretold (Isaiah 43:5–6).