ICEJ helps 120 Ethiopian Jews Come Home to Israel

By: Laurina Driesse

This week has been life changing for the Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, who after a long wait finally saw their hope and dream of moving home to Israel realized!

On Wednesday, February 1st there was an air of excitement at Ben Gurion Airport and the expectation of a brighter future ahead, as Ethiopian Jews young and old took their first steps from the plane into their homeland of Israel. The first flight arrived from Addis Ababa in the early hours of the morning, while a second flight arrived in the afternoon, each carrying new Jewish immigrants. The ICEJ assisted 120 of the 124 new Ethiopian immigrants with pre-flight arrangements and flight tickets to Israel.Adane Tadela, the lead emissary from The Jewish Agency for Israel overseeing Ethiopian Aliyah, was at the airport to warmly welcome these olim (newcomers) and expressed his sincere appreciation to the ICEJ for assisting these immigrants.

“Thank you to ICEJ from the Jewish Agency on the arrival of the Ethiopian Jewish immigrants today,” he said in a video greeting from the Arrivals Hall.

The arrival of these olim marks the beginning of the next wave of Ethiopian Aliyah, with another 1,500 Ethiopian Jews desperately waiting for their turn to make the journey home in the coming months. Some have been separated for years from relatives who are already in Israel. Most have been waiting in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, where they have lived for up to two decades in tough conditions. These flights are part of an effort to reunite families, conducted with the support of the Jewish Agency and Keren HaYesod, as well as Aliyah partners such as the Christian Embassy.

Ever since the Israeli government approved the resumption of the Ethiopian Aliyah in 2015, more than 5,500 Ethiopian Jews have been brought to Israel, with the Christian Embassy sponsoring Aliyah flights for more than half of them.

The ICEJ is gearing up to be part of this prophetic fulfillment of the ingathering of the Jews this year again as we continue our support for Aliyah promotions and preparations, and the actual flights, as well as assisting new immigrants to integrate into Israeli society once they have landed. Since 1980, the Christian Embassy has assisted 170,149 Jews with making Aliyah.

Danielle Mor, Director of Christian Friends of the Jewish Agency, shared this week about their partnership with ICEJ at our Envision Conference. Pastors and leaders heard firsthand about the huge surge in Aliyah that Israel is experiencing. The latest figures from JAFI show that a banner number of 74,915 Jewish immigrants came home to Israel in 2022.

“The doors to Aliyah are open wide,” said Danielle, explaining it is especially due to the war in Ukraine and the regional problems resulting from that conflict. “And while the war in Ukraine has been raging, at the same time we have been bringing home to Israel Jews from Ethiopia.”

Last year, the ICEJ sponsored flights for 1,646 Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, as well as from Ethiopia and South Africa. Meanwhile, we assisted a total of more than 6,300 olim with their Aliyah journey last year, including many with urgent integration needs.

Israel also has seen the Aliyah numbers triple from the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), because of a weakening economy, and concerns about events happening in the region. The Christian Embassy was ready to jump in to meet the Aliyah needs and has helped 64 Jewish olim with flights since 19 December.

In addition, we are working closely with representatives in the region to take care of pre-Aliyah arrangements, for example, helping low-income families to get to the Israeli consul in Riga, Latvia for visa interviews, and assisting with airport transfers in some cases. A Lithuanian family was so grateful for the ICEJ’s help as they were struggling financially and have a sick child. They are heartened to know their child will receive better medical care in Israel.

With the harsh winter conditions in the Ukraine, the ICEJ is continuing to support the rescue of frail, elderly Jews from further suffering by bringing them to Israel.

The Aliyah process costs around $1,000 per person which helps cover pre-Aliyah preparations, the actual flight, and integration needs. Your gift today will help change a life.