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Timely help for aspiring Ethiopian Jewish students

When online studies suddenly became a forced reality this year, many Israeli students without computers quickly found themselves at a disadvantage.

Devorah, an English teacher at the Hebrew University preparatory program, promptly noticed that several of her students were unable to participate in remote lectures, as they did not have computers at home. The one-year program prepares aspiring students for university studies, and many come from Ethiopian Jews immigrant families who have found the program very helpful in opening new opportunities for them. By successfully completing a degree, they hope to have a profession which will provide for them and their families in the future. However, as anyone who has completed a university degree knows, these goals are difficult to achieve without a computer.

It happened that Devorah had favourable memories of working with the ICEJ from her previous employment over a decade ago, which prompted her to come back to the Christian Embassy for help. Our AID team heard her heart and quickly committed to providing computers for her three students in need – Eden, Meital and Rachel.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, recently had an amazing encounter with these young students, who shared about their dreams and aspirations, as well as their family backgrounds. Nicole also had the chance to explain why Christians love and support Israel and the Jewish people.

Eden has always known her future lies in serving in the medical field, and even though there is a long road ahead in studying dentistry, she is not dismayed. Born in Ethiopia, her family immigrated to Israel when she was two years old. In their conversation, Nicole was delighted to discover that Eden’s grandmother made Aliyah last year and realised the flight was sponsored by the ICEJ. She met her grandmother for the first time that day. Eden was grateful for that moment and for her laptop as well, saying, “Thank you so much. It is a very significant gift that you have given – one which will make a big difference in our studies.”

Meital, 19, was born in Israel, the fifth child in a family of ten children. Taking one step at a time, she is still deciding whether to complete a degree in mechanical engineering or chemical engineering. She will earn her degree as part of her military service, then serve in the IDF for six years using her expertise to benefit the country, while gaining practical experience that should pave the way for a good job.

A nursing student, Rachel recently had the opportunity to gain practical training in a psychiatric hospital. This experience anchored her decision to pursue nursing as a profession. She also realised the importance of listening to the people in her care and supporting them. Her family made Aliyah from Ethiopia in 1998, but they still are waiting for her uncle and his family to be approved to come home to Israel. Chances are they will come on an ICEJ sponsored Aliyah flight as well.

“It was such a joy to meet these dedicated students, to hear their dreams, and to do something towards helping them realise those dreams”, Nicole remarked afterwards. “Proper assistance given at the right time can make all the difference!”

Immigrants, minorities, the young, the elderly, and so many more are in need of our help to overcome the widespread impact of the Corona crisis. 

Your generous giving enables us to help Israelis like these build a brighter future. Please make a donation today!

Give today at: icej.org/crisis
 

Serving Meals That Make a Difference

Hineni, a community kitchen in the center of Jerusalem, offers hot daily meals for the elderly and poor, serving hundreds of needy recipients every day, both on-site and through home deliveries. (The name Hineni comes from the Hebrew word for “Here am I”).

Normally, this social outreach restaurant has a small full-time staff of a couple managers and cooks, and they rely on foreign Christian volunteers to come in from abroad and assist with preparing and serving the meals. Many of their volunteers are Dutch Christians, who faithfully serve at different times of the year in Jerusalem.

But the Coronavirus lockdowns and travels bans have prevented some of the regular staff from getting to work, while the foreign Christian volunteers have been unable to reach Israel to serve their time at Hineni. Without the normal staff and these Christian helpers, the kitchen would have to close down, and hundreds would be without food. This is where the staff of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem comes in!

Over recent months, the ICEJ staff have been rotating in to serve each day at Hineni and keep it open to feed the hungry and unfortunate, including a number of Holocaust survivors. Each day, at least three or four Embassy staffers are on-site, cutting vegetables, scooping up plates of food, and packing meals for home delivery. Even during the strictest lockdowns, the ICEJ staff were still considered essential workers and could come serve and package meals.

Benjamin Philip, the founder and director of Hineni, has been thrilled and relieved by the help of the ICEJ.

“Truthfully, I must say that you have been sent by God. I cannot say it differently,” he recently stated. “At the time when Corona started, we would have had to close down because our own workers and regular volunteers were unable to help due to various reasons. But the ICEJ came every day, which allowed us to stay open and continue to provide Israelis in need with daily help even in remote areas.”

“Hineni works closely with the Jerusalem social welfare department to provide hot meals and daily necessities to those in need,” Benjamin added. “Without the help of the ICEJ, it would have been literally impossible to do.”

Ryan Tsuen, the ICEJ’s graphic designer, has been excited to serve the Lord here in Jerusalem in this different way.

“For myself, the opportunity to volunteer with Hineni was an immediate Yes!,” said Ryan. “Back in Canada, I volunteered with a small charity which also served meals to those in need. We saw the immediate impact of providing food to those living below the welfare margin. So, when the chance to do something like that here in Jerusalem came up, I did not hesitate.”

“I realize the need for a nutritious meal, and Hineni does not disappoint,” he added. “They provide take-away trays as well as a sit-down meals for their patrons. Seeing the different ones come in is very special, because we don’t know the details of their background, or their challenges, but we know we are called to love others as Christ loves us. And when given the opportunity to love through this act of service, what more can you ask for?”

Irene Sands, housing manager for the ICEJ staff, is also grateful for this unique opportunity to serve the needy in Jerusalem.

“It has been special over the past few weeks to serve at Hineni,” said Irene. “Our work includes cutting vegetables and the ‘hugest’ sweet potatoes I have ever seen, packing boxed lunches for delivery, serving meals and helping to clean the venue afterwards. It has been refreshing and enlightening, working with the staff there and it is wonderful to see Jews, Christians and even their Arab Muslim cooks working together in unity.”

“It is always a blessing to serve those less fortunate than ourselves, and it warms my heart to see a smile appear from offering them more soup or pouring their water for them. As Mother Theresa said: ‘It’s the small acts of kindness that echo into eternity’. To treat them with dignity and to show love, is so important.”

Irene also noted: “I have enjoyed working with other ICEJ staff members who I do not usually work with that much, learning more about their lives and discussing their latest activities, all while dishing up food! It can be more physically trying than office work, but great teamwork helps.”

She added: “I want to say a word of thanks to the ICEJ’s supporters worldwide for enabling our staff to have this special opportunity at this unique time. I am most grateful.”

Indeed, it is such a blessing for the ICEJ to be the hands and feet of our Christian supporters here in Israel. Thanks to you, we are able to answer the Lord: “Here am I.”

Please consider a generous gift to the ongoing social aid work of the ICEJ during this time of the Corona crisis.

The God Who Heals Nations

"For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land" (Haggai 2:6).

The prophet Haggai foresaw a time of global shaking. He saw not only the earth but also the heavens shaken. A shaking heaven does not mean that the heavenly dwelling place of God would be shaken in any way. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His rule and throne is everlasting. It rather refers to the heavenly realms where principalities and rulers of darkness influence our world (Ephesians 6:12), which shall be in an uproar such that demonic principalities even over nations become unsettled, possibly leading even to changes in government.

We are definitely in a time of unprecedented global shaking. The COVID-19 virus is causing global upheaval, resulting in an unseen flood of unusual government decisions worldwide. Like never before, a plague is impacting every part of our planet and affecting every nation on earth all at once.

Also the riots and demonstrations caused by the recent death of an African-American man, George Floyd, are spreading like a wildfire around the world. Its greatest, most disconcerting impact is felt in the USA, where it has already enflamed the existing polarization within society and even could sway the upcoming presidential elections. Many of these demonstrations have been taken over by destructive forces that do not seek racial harmony and the peace of a nation, but rather their destruction. I personally sense much of the violent fallout is of an evil spiritual origin and thus needs to be addressed in spiritual battle through prayer.

Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the riots together are opening a national wound in America and around the world that cries out for healing. And it is exactly here that the word of God gives us hope.

“[If] My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

This verse teaches us that prayer can lead to the healing and restoration of entire nations. Prayer is not just a weapon to fight our own personal wars regarding our finances, health or family. Prayer can be a strategic missile with national impact and combined with fasting it can break any yoke and stronghold. God inspires us to think on these levels.

“Ask of me,” God says, “and I will give you the nations for your inheritance.” (Psalms 2:8) When Daniel prayed in Babylon for the dispersed people of Israel, his prayer impacted angelic principalities which ruled in the heavenly realms over the world empires of Greece and Persia. That means focused and intentional prayer can shift the atmosphere in nations and regions.

One example of this is what happened in Germany during the late 1980s. After World War II, Germany was severely judged and experienced a national division into two parts. East Germany was controlled and suppressed by the Soviet Union (with the East German region eventually overseen by a KGB officer named Vladimir Putin). The other side was part of the free Western world led by the United States of America. The fault-line of the Cold War, between East and West, ran right through Germany and especially through the city of Berlin. Germans spied on each other and were even trained to fight each other in case of war.

Even still in mid-1989, the reunification of Germany looked impossible. Some of the prophetic voices who foresaw a unification like the British Bible teacher David Pawson and Loren Cunningham of YWAM were laughed at by pastors in Germany. What separated Germany was not just a national rift, but global political blocks that were willing to defend and fight for their piece of Germany. As a child, I well remember the US military maneuvers close to my home town near Stuttgart.

When I was in Germany last summer, it was 30 years after reunification, so I talked to pastors and leaders from east and west and was greatly encouraged by what I heard. Already in the late 1970s, prayer groups emerged in particular in Eastern communist Germany who prayed for the healing of our land. In the year before reunification, various individuals and prayer groups, led by God and unbeknownst to the others, went to the wall and prayed that it might fall. On both sides people held Communion at the Berlin Wall, not knowing others were doing the same.

The demonstrations that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall actually started out of the Monday prayer meetings of the Nikolai church in Dresden, a weekly prayer gathering that started already in 1986. And God answered these prayers!

What really happened on the night of 9 November 1989, no one knows until today. But everyone agrees it was a miracle when an East German high-ranking official declared the border to be open.

I am writing this today as the nations of the world need healing. There is a wall going through the United States – and I am not talking about the wall that secures the southern border of the USA. But it is a wall that separates and polarizes the nation and can endanger not only the fabric of America but the global leadership of the USA as a “nation under God.” America needs our prayers more than ever before. In particular, we Christians in the Western world owe this to the USA more than any others as they stood with us for decades.

God also can heal and reunite Korea as he healed and reunited Germany. North Korea was once known as the “Jerusalem of Asia” as a revival greatly touched that nation. What looks today impossible is possible with God.

The key, however, lays not with politicians but with the people of God. Note that it does not say “If the President” or “if the government” or “if the parliament”, but God says “If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray …. I will heal their land.”

The key to the healing of our nations lays in the hands of ordinary people like you and me who will stand at these walls of division and call for them to fall in the name of Jesus!

Please join us in prayer for the USA, for Korea and for Israel. Maybe your own nation needs a touch of God. God is the healer of nations. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much,” says James 5:16. Our prayers can break the demonic powers of division, liberalism and racism, because Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Nothing is impossible for him when his people pray. Let us join hands and do this together!

God bless you from Jerusalem as we change the world together!


Let's prayer together! Join our Isaiah 62 Prayer Iniatative.

Abraham Lincoln and the ‘Unfinished Work’ of Racial Equality

When I was researching for my book “Floodgates” several years ago, I became fascinated by the life and beliefs of Abraham Lincoln in relation to Charles Darwin and their comparative views on God and mankind. Lincoln is a towering figure in world history most remembered for emancipating black slaves in America, and like his contemporary Darwin, his true religious views are vigorously debated to this day. And I believe the world would do well to remember Lincoln’s words and actions concerning the equality of man as we wrestle with the heated racial tensions now plaguing an America and world also beset by a global pandemic.

Darwin published his book Origin of Species in 1859, on the eve of the American Civil War. Though some have framed that great conflict as a battle over states’ rights and other issues, President Lincoln rightly boiled it down to a struggle over the equality of man as a creation of God. This makes the Civil War unique from all other conflicts in human history, and the man who presided over the nation during that grueling fight is equally unique.

It was a time when Darwin and others began using his evolutionary theory to question the divine origin of man. Lincoln read these works, was drawn to them intellectually, but in the crucible of the “War Between the States,” he came out retaining his belief in a God who made all men equal. He also firmly believed that God’s judgments are righteous and true, and they are still in the earth today.

Lincoln’s Worldview
The long, swirling debate among scholars and biographers concerning Abraham Lincoln’s religious beliefs come in part because he kept them private as a matter of principle. This debate was already raging during his lifetime, as on several occasions Lincoln even considered bringing libel suits to stem rumors he had denied Christian beliefs. Today, Lincoln remains such a monumental figure that Christians and atheists alike claim him as one of their own. Thus, some portray him as a skeptic or an iconoclast who rejected the established Christian views of his day, while others depict him as a deeply spiritual man who was given over to much prayer and was fully cognizant of Divine Providence over human affairs.

Lincoln biographer Fred Kaplan notes three distinguishing characteristics about the 16th president of the United States. First, Kaplan lists Lincoln, along with Thomas Jefferson, as the greatest intellectual president in American history, whose every written or spoken word was composed by him alone Self-educated, Lincoln read profusely on an array of subjects.

Second, as a young man Lincoln first learned to read by candlelight from the Bible, a book which impacted him deeply for the rest of his life. Kaplan recounts that in Lincoln’s day the Bible “was given full currency as the source of the dominant belief system. It was also the great book of illustrative stories, illuminating references, and pithy maxims for everyday conduct. More than any other glue, it held the society together.”

Third, nearly everyone who knew Lincoln came to see him as a very decent and honest man. As a young lawyer, his clients took to calling him “Honest Abe” as a compliment to how he was always fair and deserving of trust. Accordingly, Kaplan notes that Lincoln “was also the last president whose character and standards in the use of language avoided the distortions and other dishonest uses of language that have done so much to undermine the credibility of national leaders.”

So whenever Lincoln quoted from the Bible, which he did quite often, it was not just to manipulate Christian voters or simply because he admired its literary value, but he honestly believed the Scriptures shed much needed light on the world. At an early age, he was steeped in the Calvinistic views of his mother, with its focus on predestination. And while he ventured into other views in his day, he always returned to the Bible as a guiding light of truth and morality.

We see this in his famous “House Divided” speech while running for the US Senate in 1858. Taken from Mark 3:25, the speech thrust Lincoln onto the national stage as an articulate opponent of slavery, and helped propel him to the presidency two years later.

A Humbled Man of Prayer
No doubt the Union army’s poor showings early in the war drove Lincoln to his knees in prayer. Many sources also claim that the tragic death of his eleven year-old son Willie in 1862, and then the emotional experience of visiting the vast military cemetery at Gettysburg in late 1863, were catalysts for Lincoln’s deepening spirituality. He prayed more earnestly, and his public speeches reflected a leader with a deep personal sense that somehow God was using him as an instrument of good within His unfolding purposes for America.

Lincoln’s sense of Providence was already apparent in his First Inaugural Address in March 1861, in which he expressed hope that a combination of “intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land” would somehow resolve peacefully the crisis then brewing due to the secession of the Southern states.

Around the time of the Union’s sound defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862, Lincoln sat alone in his office and penned the following words:

“In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party… I am almost ready to say that this is probably true – that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet…”

This grappling with God’s purposes amid the bloody conflict continued to dominate Lincoln's public remarks for the rest of the war. In his immortal Gettysburg Address, Lincoln distilled the essence of the Civil War as a struggle over America’s belief in the equality of all men:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure… It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom...” [60]

The Union’s victory at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 also prompted Lincoln to call for the first official nationwide observance of Thanksgiving Day in order to reflect on “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Finally, we see a similar theological message in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, delivered in March 1865, in which he stated that both sides “read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other… The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

Lincoln then referenced King David the Psalmist: “As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” With this precious truth from Psalm 19:9, the president humbly deferred to powers beyond the reach of logic: He had come to believe that God’s judgements were proper, even if they belied any rational explanation. Lincoln then concluded his speech on a note of reconciliation, with perhaps his single greatest utterance:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds...”

Upon listening to Lincoln’s second inaugural address, the famous black statesman Frederick Douglas commented that it “sounded more like a sermon than a state paper.” But Lincoln’s words, and especially his call for leniency on the South, provide us with a remarkable glimpse into his struggle to come to terms with four brutal years of war.

Trusting in Divine Justice
I believe that while Abraham Lincoln was intellectually open to new thoughts emerging in that day, including Darwinian evolution, he ultimately represents a man who still feared God and sought to understand His judgments in the earth. Though he may never have openly professed faith in Christ, his worldview was deeply infused with biblical insights into God, man and the universe. This included a high view of mankind as created in God’s image – a view he was willing to defend by force of arms.

Lincoln also rightly proclaimed that “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9) The same Psalmist also said that “His judgments are in all the earth.” (Psalm 105:7)

I believe that, indeed, God’s righteous judgments can be seen working themselves out in every generation. In that regard, I believe the Civil War was God’s correction upon all of America for the sin of slavery.

The whole nation, both North and South, was morally complicit for having allowed slavery to take hold in the New World. The selling and enslavement of human beings was contrary to the principle expressed in the American Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” The abandonment of this sacred principle was already underway in the drafting of the US Constitution, when the so-called “three-fifths clause” counted black slaves as merely three-fifths of a person solely for purposes of allocating seats in the US Congress; otherwise they were not deemed to be persons entitled to equal rights. This clause was included as a compromise to sway the southern slave-owning states to join the new, centralized federal government.

Then as new states were admitted to the Union, more slave states were allowed to join, such as in the “Missouri Compromise” of 1830, which served to maintain the balance between slave and free states in Congress. That delicate balance lasted for another 30 years but eventually tensions over slavery boiled over into open conflict. Thankfully, the right side won that bitter contest, but not before both sides had paid an immense price for allowing the evil of slavery. I believe Lincoln came to realize this to some degree, and therefore called for leniency on the South just ahead of his untimely death.

Yet even though America paid a very costly price for the evil institution of slavery during the Civil War, it took another 100 years and the Civil Rights movement to finally shame many white Southerners (and many other Americans as well) out of their sense of racial superiority. We still have a ways to go, in all nations and societies, to recapture the biblical truth that all men are created equal by a benevolent God, and thus we should treat every human life with dignity and respect. It is indeed an “unfinished work,” as Lincoln said at Gettysburg.

But we can also trust that God’s judgments are righteous and true, and that they are still in the earth today. We do not have to try to force justice through senseless violence, as many are doing at present. Besides, our own human sense of justice is usually a lot different than what God considers justice. Rather, what we could all use right now is a little “malice toward none, charity for all.”

David R. Parsons is an author, attorney, journalist and ordained minister who serves as Vice President & Senior Spokesman of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. His book “Floodgates” is available in our online store.

Learning is a click away

All of our lives have been disrupted in some way by the Coronavirus pandemic, including a whole generation of children forced to learn remotely from home. But for children of disadvantaged families in Ma’ale Adumim, located just east of Jerusalem, this disruption was felt even more when their school closed during the nationwide lockdowns here in Israel. These children suddenly found themselves experiencing the stress of being unable to attend classes, as their families had no computers at home. Thus they were falling behind their classmates, who were able to continue their studies online.

The Israeli Ministry of Education embarked upon a project, “A Computer for Every Child”, to ensure that all children had access to a computer at home. However, to participate in the project, each municipality has had to contribute towards purchasing computers for disadvantaged families in their town, with each family also making a modest contribution towards the cost.

The city of Ma’ale Adumim identified 75 families who qualified for the program. Many of these families are immigrant and single-parent households who generally find it difficult to pay even the most minimal costs of school books and after-school activities, let alone purchasing a computer.

In addition, the town budget for Ma’ale Adumim is already stretched with the many challenges of the Corona crisis. Although the computers were offered at a special discounted price, assistance was required for the project to get underway. So they approached the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for help, and we quickly agreed to purchase computers for 69 families.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah, presented the computers to students at a ceremony last week hosted by Mayor Benny Kashriel. Expressing his gratitude, Mayor Kashriel thanked the ICEJ and our donors worldwide for extending a hand of friendship in this time of difficulty, not only by giving these computers but also by providing hot meals to many elderly residents in his town over recent months.

Unfortunately, due to Coronavirus restrictions which limit gatherings outside to 20 people, only three of the 69 families receiving computers could attend the ceremony, with the remainder receiving the computers the following week.

*Ayala, an Ethiopian Israeli mother, was so thankful and said that she has “no words to express what a tremendous help this is for them.”

Meanwhile *Meital, a single mother of three, shared how providing for her children alone is so difficult, and that there was no way that she could have purchased this computer. Her daughter, *Batya, also eagerly expressed that there are many things that she would like to learn on the computer, including English, and did not think it would be too difficult to learn how to use it.

Each family receiving a computer will also receive an internet connection, have a technician to install the computer, and receive basic instructions on how to use it. Soon, a whole new world of opportunity will be within their reach.

Nicole Yoder shared at the ceremony how inspired she is to see how the people of Israel, from medical professionals to ordinary citizens, are using their knowledge, talent and energy to help others in a myriad of ways during the COVID-19 threat. “Giving these computers is one way that Christians can do our part to help in this crisis, by allowing young people to continue their studies in these challenging times”, she said.

Thank you for easing the economic stress on these families and for investing in the future of Israel!

(*Real names have been changed.)

Please donate today to the ICEJ to help other needy families in Israel get through the current crisis.
Give today at:
icej.org/crisis
 

 

Lifting the Druze of Israel

Over the decades, the ICEJ has seen the great importance of assisting all the different peoples living in the Land of Israel, including minorities, in order to strengthen Israeli society as a whole. This has led the Christian Embassy to forge a close partnership over the past eight years with Druze leaders in the North, which is not only lifting the Druze community but also has become a strong point of reconciliation between Jews and Arabs overall.

First of all, you may ask: “Who are the Druze people?”

The Druze are a unique people indigenous to the Middle East who claim descent back to Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses in the Bible. Many centuries ago, they fled the deserts of Midian and found refuge on several high mountain ridges in today’s Israel, Lebanon and Syria – including the Carmel, Galilee and Hermon ranges. Although they speak Arabic, they retain their own ethnic identity. In addition, the Druze are not Muslims but have their own secretive religion which some scholars say contains a mix of Islam, Gnosticism and Greek philosophy. And in general, they tend to be very loyal to the rulers in the land where they live.

The Druze in Israel make up only 1.6% of the population. The Carmel and Galilee Druze (and increasingly the Druze on the Hermon) are very loyal to the State of Israel and in fact they consider it a great honour to serve in the Israeli army to defend their homeland.

A small ICEJ delegation travelled to northern Israel recently to visit several Druze communities and see how some of our ongoing social projects were faring. Our first stop was a Druze elementary school, where we saw teachers interacting with students by singing and dancing to help the children learn in a fun yet memorable way. Some of these young Druze students have a strong desire to further their education at the university level. However, many of their families cannot afford the costs. Therefore, the ICEJ has given scholarships to a number of Druze students in recent years to help them continue their education after high school.

One young Druze lady named Maram Mansor, from Isfiya, was on hand to say that thanks to an ICEJ scholarship she is studying Mathematics, Arabic Language, and Literature at Haifa University. She was most grateful, saying: “I was always dreaming when I was in high school, I really wanted to be a Mathematics teacher. But I was afraid because of my financial status. But now I know that no one has to worry as long as we have generous people and organisations like the International Christian Embassy. So thank you so much… You have made our dreams come true!”

Meanwhile, Maimoon Azmi, also from Isfiya, has been working for the Ministry of Finance for over 13 years now, and credits his success to an ICEJ scholarship. “Thanks to the International Christian Embassy, I had the opportunity to go and study for my first degree… It opened a lot of doors for me. I don’t know if I would have finished school without this scholarship.” 

The next stop was at a Druze middle school, and upon our arrival the students lined the entryway with drums and other instruments to offer us a warm musical welcome. After the grand entrance, another group of students performed a traditional Druze dance in colourful national costumes. This was all meant to say thanks for the support of the ICEJ and several local welfare organizations who are helping with special projects at their school.

After these performances, we stepped into the classrooms to see the students learning through interactive games on the new computers donated by the Christian Embassy. Nicole Yoder, the ICEJ’s Vice President for AID and Aliyah, had the honour of cutting a ribbon celebrating the five new classrooms now equipped with computers. One student named Reem explained how playing games on the computers are helping her to learn English.

After we engaged with the students, Druze community leaders presented our delegation with a beautiful gold plaque to express their appreciation for all the support Christians around the world have been giving to Druze students and communities throughout Israel.

Bahij Mansour, Mayor of Isfiya, also offered his thanks, saying: “We have 17 Druze villages in the state of Israel, and in every place we have something that the Christian Embassy has created. A library, a scholarship, many things. We think the Christian Embassy is taking amazing steps to improve the education system in our community. It is an amazing contribution that you are bringing.”

We ended our visit sitting around a large table with several Druze leaders and enjoyed their spectacular hospitality and a delicious meal of fresh salads, side dishes, meats, dessert and coffee. Several of our Druze hosts shared one word to describe their special people: The Druze people are… “proud”… “brave”… “amazing”… “strong”… “adventurous”… “loyal”… and “peace-loving”.

The Druze are an important part of Israeli society, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help support and strengthen them for a better future here in the Land of Israel.

Partner with us in giving a hope and a future to the children of Israel!

 

Watch this video below to meet some of the Druze students and hear their success stories!

Planting Roots in Israel

Over recent months, the ICEJ has sponsored special ‘evacuation flights’ every week bringing Jews on Aliyah to Israel, despite the coronavirus crisis. There are three such Aliyah flights coming this week alone, all arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the Christian Embassy. This includes 35 Russian Jews who landed on Monday, another 65 who will arrive today (Tuesday), and 34 Ethiopian Jews scheduled to come on Thursday. With the latest cancellations of most regular flights into Israel, these are about the only flights currently arriving at Ben-Gurion airport, which only adds to the miracle now taking place thanks to our faithful supporters.

Each Jewish olim (newcomer) on board these flights has their own family history and unique life stories on how they came to make Aliyah, but all are united by the sense of joy and expectation concerning their new home in Israel. Last week, the Klokov family arrived from the Far East as part of a group of 61 new Jewish immigrants from all across Russia who came on a rescue flight funded by the Christian Embassy. Eugene Klokov came with his wife and two children, and he shared his fascinating story with us.

Eugene was born in 1987, in the city of Khabarovsk, in far eastern regions of Russia. All his life, he knew about his Jewish identity and wanted to explore it further.

“I was fascinated by this and for many years I have worked on re-creating my family tree,” said Eugene. “I was very interested to know who my distant ancestors were. I collected the information bit by bit. Sometimes, I just got on a plane and flew to relatives across the former Soviet Union whom I had never seen.”

Most of his relatives lived in small Jewish communities. And for them, Eugene became a hope – a hope that the family history would not vanish without a trace, but will be passed on to the next generation.

Eugene’s grandparents were from Crimea and the Ukraine. But after graduating from university, they were moved to the Far East to work by the Soviet state, which wanted to ‘populate’ the vast, empty region. Soviet officials said it would be “for just a few years.”

“It wasn't surprising that they were sent east,” said Eugene. “The central government didn't want Jews anywhere near the center of the country.”

The system was set up so that after five mandatory years of work, the Soviets offered his grandparents a small promotion if they stayed a few more years, and so on and so forth.

“My grandfather and grandmother lived all their lives with the thought that they would move the next year,” he explained. “They lived with packed suitcases, they didn’t buy new furniture, they literally limited themselves in everything. Yet eventually, they never left.”

“Maybe it is no coincidence that my grandparents never grew roots in Russia. Maybe it is no coincidence that I am here now, of all times, during a pandemic, finally planting roots for my family in Israel,” Eugene confided.

From an early age, Eugene passionately studied the history of Israel, which he viewed as inextricably linked with his family history. Once, Eugene was able to take part in a Taglit (Birthright) tour of Israel. During a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, he was shocked to find information about his relatives murdered in the Holocaust, including children as young as four years old.

“I felt a chill come over me when I looked at these photos and records of eyewitness testimony. And when I held in my hands these old documents, I felt very strong feelings. A huge desire arose within me to do something for the Land of Israel,” said Eugene. But he quickly adds that this was not his only reason for making Aliyah.

“I wanted to show my children a different life, I wanted a different future for them. Education, medicine, and the caring attitude of the government towards its people made me feel Israel can be my home,” said Eugene.

After making Aliyah last week, Eugene is filled with great expectations. He wants to start a new business in construction.

“I believe that our life consists of actions,” he insists. “We can make history today, here and now!”

“I would be extremely happy if my children appreciate what I am doing, that I moved from a distant town in Russia to the center of the world, to the country that was waiting for me,” Eugene concluded.

Indeed, the Klokov family started their Aliyah journey home nearly a century ago and thousands of miles away from even their old home. Now they are finally home, in Israel.

 

Please help us bring more Jewish families like the Klokovs home to Israel. It is still possible thanks to the ‘evacuation flights’ the ICEJ is now sponsoring. We have brought over 1250 Jews to Israel over the past five months of the coronavirus crisis. And to build on this remarkable achievement, we are now calling on our Christian friends and supporters worldwide to join us in helping more Jews reach Israel safely through our “Rescue250” campaign.

A Day With the Druze

With an early start to a sunshine-filled day, there was much excitement as the ICEJ staff set out from Jerusalem one morning in early June to visit the Druze community of Hurfeish, just four kilometers from Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

A close-knit, Arabic-speaking minority, the Israeli Druze mostly live in small towns nestled in the Carmel range, Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. While their unique cultural and religious practices differentiate them from other Israeli Arabs, they especially stand out due to their steadfast loyalty as Israeli citizens who serve honorably and with pride in the Israel Defense Force (IDF).

Some 250,000 Israelis live within nine kilometers of the Lebanese border in a hilly, pastoral area that belies underlying tensions. Stick around for a while, though, and one is likely to experience a disruption of that deceptive tranquility – a fact underlined by the recent IDF discovery of six underground tunnels which Hizbullah terrorists intended to use to infiltrate Israeli border communities.

Unfortunately, a severe shortage of adequate bomb shelters along the border means that communities there are ill-prepared for Hizbullah rocket attacks. This is a reality that authorities are working to correct and the ICEJ, due to the generosity of our German supporters, will soon deliver two portable shelters to the Hurfeish Cultural Center – a focus of Druze youth activity and community life.

However, those living in the northern periphery far from the economic center of the country face other challenges as well. High rates of unemployment or under-employment as well as a lack of urban development create barriers to economic growth for both individuals and communities. Investment in education is essential to improve opportunities for women and young people.

To address these needs, the ICEJ is enriching Druze schools in partnership with local leaders by providing such things as computer labs, upgrading libraries, or adding a music room. Our most recent project includes sponsoring an Aviators Program that works in conjunction with the Israeli Air Force and the Ilan Ramon Centre. Currently two Druze schools participate in this program, which aims to develop positive social and ethical leadership among youth, setting a foundation for responsible citizenship.

Mentors encourage young people to dream big, then motivate them to achieve success by accomplishing small goals one step at a time. One highlight of the program is interaction with Israeli air force pilots, who act as role-models and meet monthly with the youth to inspire them towards excellence at school and in all they do.

A local English teacher confided that she wished her own children were able to be in this program. “We’ve seen such amazing change and progress in the children participating that we couldn’t believe it”, she said. “We’re hoping to expand to all schools in the Druze sector.”

The ICEJ staff outing then took us to Misgav Am, which provides a high vantage point for looking over the border into southern Lebanon. Afterwards, we tasted warm Druze hospitality while harvesting ripe-red cherries at an orchard in the Golan, followed by a satisfying Mediterranean-style dinner in Kfar Buq’ata, a Druze village near the foot of Mt. Hermon. Before travelling back to Jerusalem, our host, Mofid Aamer, shared about his 28 years of service in the IDF Special Units and his passion for education to help the next generation achieve a better future. We share his passion to strengthen Israel and know that lifting up all her people is key to realizing it.

Your generous giving enables us to provide a future and a hope to the next generation in Israel.

Please donate to the ICEJ today!

I am finally planting roots for my family in Israel

Over recent months, the ICEJ has sponsored special ‘evacuation flights’ every week bringing Jews on Aliyah to Israel, despite the coronavirus crisis. There are three such Aliyah flights coming this week alone, all arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the Christian Embassy. This includes 100 Russian and 34 Ethiopian Jews all who arrived in the last week. With the latest cancellations of most regular flights into Israel, these are about the only flights currently arriving at Ben-Gurion airport, which only adds to the miracle now taking place thanks to our faithful supporters.

Each Jewish olim (newcomer) on board these flights has their own family history and unique life stories on how they came to make Aliyah, but all are united by the sense of joy and expectation concerning their new home in Israel. Last week, the Klokov family arrived from the Far East as part of a group of 61 new Jewish immigrants from all across Russia who came on a rescue flight funded by the Christian Embassy. Eugene Klokov came with his wife and two children, and he shared his fascinating story with us.

Eugene was born in 1987, in the city of Khabarovsk, in far eastern regions of Russia. All his life, he knew about his Jewish identity and wanted to explore it further.

“I was fascinated by this and for many years I have worked on re-creating my family tree,” said Eugene. “I was very interested to know who my distant ancestors were. I collected the information bit by bit. Sometimes, I just got on a plane and flew to relatives across the former Soviet Union whom I had never seen.”

Most of his relatives lived in small Jewish communities. And for them, Eugene became a hope – a hope that the family history would not vanish without a trace, but will be passed on to the next generation.

Eugene’s grandparents were from Crimea and the Ukraine. But after graduating from university, they were moved to the Far East to work by the Soviet state, which wanted to ‘populate’ the vast, empty region. Soviet officials said it would be “for just a few years.”

“It wasn't surprising that they were sent east,” said Eugene. “The central government didn't want Jews anywhere near the center of the country.”

The system was set up so that after five mandatory years of work, the Soviets offered his grandparents a small promotion if they stayed a few more years, and so on and so forth.

“My grandfather and grandmother lived all their lives with the thought that they would move the next year,” he explained. “They lived with packed suitcases, they didn’t buy new furniture, they literally limited themselves in everything. Yet eventually, they never left.”

“Maybe it is no coincidence that my grandparents never grew roots in Russia. Maybe it is no coincidence that I am here now, of all times, during a pandemic, finally planting roots for my family in Israel,” Eugene confided.

From an early age, Eugene passionately studied the history of Israel, which he viewed as inextricably linked with his family history. Once, Eugene was able to take part in a Taglit (Birthright) tour of Israel. During a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, he was shocked to find information about his relatives murdered in the Holocaust, including children as young as four years old.

“I felt a chill come over me when I looked at these photos and records of eyewitness testimony. And when I held in my hands these old documents, I felt very strong feelings. A huge desire arose within me to do something for the Land of Israel,” said Eugene. But he quickly adds that this was not his only reason for making Aliyah.

“I wanted to show my children a different life, I wanted a different future for them. Education, medicine, and the caring attitude of the government towards its people made me feel Israel can be my home,” said Eugene.

After making Aliyah last week, Eugene is filled with great expectations. He wants to start a new business in construction.

“I believe that our life consists of actions,” he insists. “We can make history today, here and now!”

“I would be extremely happy if my children appreciate what I am doing, that I moved from a distant town in Russia to the center of the world, to the country that was waiting for me,” Eugene concluded.

Indeed, the Klokov family started their Aliyah journey home nearly a century ago and thousands of miles away from even their old home. Now they are finally home, in Israel.

Please help us bring more Jewish families like the Klokovs home to Israel. It is still possible thanks to the ‘evacuation flights’ the ICEJ is now sponsoring. We have brought over 1250 Jews to Israel over the past five months of the coronavirus crisis. And to build on this remarkable achievement, we are now calling on our Christian friends and supporters worldwide to join us in helping more Jews reach Israel safely through our “Rescue250” campaign.

The Rescue250 campaign is a challenge to Christian supporters of Israel around the globe to partner with the ICEJ is keeping up our current pace of flying at least 250 Jews per month home to Israel while the coronavirus pandemic is still severely impacting the world. This is both a prophetic mandate and a humanitarian mission, and we welcome your involvement in making this miracle happen.

  

A Hidden Story Revealed

The thought of Leah, a 90-year-old Holocaust Survivor, being alone through the Jewish holidays suddenly prompted Corrie of ICEJ Homecare to call on her even though it was a non-working day. Corrie and her assistant entered Leah’s room, and within mere moments of hearing Corrie’s familiar voice, Leah passed away. Despite a heavy heart, Corrie was still thankful for the Lord’s leading that day which brought her to Leah’s bedside so she was not alone in her last moments in this life.

Twelve years before, this highly educated lady suffered a stroke which robbed her freedom and mobility soon after immigrating to Israel. She was forced to move in with family members who found it difficult to care for an elderly invalid, so Homecare’s weekly visits were a highlight. “My week goes from Wednesday to Wednesday because then you are coming,” Leah would often tell the ICEJ team.

Not long before Leah died, Corrie asked her, “What were the highlights of your life?” She responded, “I have no highlights. My life was difficult.” As a twelve-year-old, Leah and her family fled Rostov in Russia, where the occupying Nazis mass murdered between 15,000 and 18,000 Jews. The family knew only fear, hunger and exhaustion as they walked for days on end towards the unknown.

Corrie gently persevered if there was anything for which she was particularly thankful. As she held her hand, Leah began to share:

“After days of walking we reached a farm and were given a place of safety in the pig barn. That evening, through the kindness of the farmer, we received a bowl of soup. I never ate in my life such a good and tasty soup, and after that I made a pillow from hay to sleep on that night. That evening, as a girl of 12 years old, I promised myself to be thankful the rest of my life for this plate of soup and the pillow of hay.”

Corrie had no words but gave Leah a hug. She thanked God for the ability to walk alongside this precious Russian Jewish lady.

There are others like Leah who carry hidden stories in their hearts from past traumas, yet we are honoured to share these difficult and precious memories with them. 

Partner with ICEJ Homecare today, as we give God’s hope to elderly Jews in their last days!

 

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