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Special Reports

ICEJ Sponsors Aliyah Flight in Urgent Ethiopian Airlift

Some 432 Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel late this week in the first phase of “Operation Rock of Israel” (Tzur Israel in Hebrew), a special airlift being carried out by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Drought conditions, a locust plague, the coronavirus pandemic, and now a civil war in Ethiopia have given new urgency to bringing home the last remnant of this ancient Jewish community. The airlift operation is being supported by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which sponsored the flight arriving today with 116 new immigrants on board.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials were on hand Thursday morning to greet the first flight of 316 Ethiopian newcomers, who were accompanied by Aliyah Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel herself at age three some four decades ago. A second flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday morning with an additional 116 Ethiopian immigrants, all part of an effort to bring a total of 2,000 Ethiopian olim by the end of January 2021.

The Israeli cabinet decided in 2015 to bring home the last remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, consisting of some 9,000 ‘Falash Mura’ who have been living in poor conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, some waiting there for up to 20 years to make Aliyah. The Christian Embassy has now sponsored Aliyah flights for over 2,300 Ethiopian Jews who have arrived in Israel since then, but the immigration process has been slow and the challenges to the well-being of those left behind are mounting.

There are now approximately 7-8,000 members of the Falash Mura community remaining in Ethiopia, and Aliyah Minister Tamano-Shata, together with Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, are spearheading the effort to bring them to Israel over the next couple years.

Ethiopia has been suffering under a prolonged drought, while a massive plague of locust also has hit East Africa this year. As a result, food supplies are running short and prices are spiraling upward. Many Jews in the transit camps are malnourished, especially children. And Ethiopia is now weathering a serious wave of coronavirus. Add to this the armed rebellion which erupted in early November in the breakaway province of Tigray, just 45 miles across the border from the Gondar transit camps, and the situation has become quite worrisome, particularly for their relatives already living in Israel.

“We are thrilled to see these latest arrivals from the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community finally standing in the Land of Israel,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “This airlift operation comes at a critical moment due to the worsening conditions facing those still living in the transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa. We welcome the Israeli government’s decision to bring them speedily home to Israel. It is truly a privilege for the ICEJ to support this historic and humanitarian effort to reunite Ethiopian families and fulfill the dreams of many generations to return to the Jewish homeland.”

Please consider what you can give to help us with sponsoring more flights for Ethiopian Jews as this urgent airlift continues over coming weeks.

Donate today to our Ethiopian Aliyah efforts at: int.icej.org/ethiopia
 

Helping new Israeli Immigrant Children Learn from Home

Moving from your home country to Israel is definitely a challenging feat, but can you imagine how daunting this could be for a child during a world pandemic? Eight-year-old Yirus recently made Aliyah from Ethiopia with her parents and five siblings. As she began school, she was instantly faced with the challenges of the language barrier, cultural differences, and the hardships of distance learning from home due to new COVID-19 governmental restrictions.

There are many children like Yirus, who are arriving in Israel at this particularly difficult time. Currently, almost 600 Ethiopian children and another 370 immigrant children from around the world need extra help as they transition into a new - and now online - educational system. “Foundations” an important educational program seeks to support students 8 years old through 12th grade, by providing the necessary tools needed to attend their classes via Zoom, as well as daily physical interactions with a teacher who can help them with technical difficulties, Hebrew, and other subjects.

The majority of the children needing this program are Ethiopian, but it is open to other immigrant children living in Jewish Agency operated aliyah centers as well. Due to COVID-19, children face incredible difficulties in learning at home because their homes are usually quite small, and some immigrant families cannot afford proper technology to connect to their child’s online classes. In addition, their parents are also just learning the Hebrew language and culture themselves, so they are unable to help their child with any questions they may have.

Two immigrant children from Russia, Sergei (13 years old) and Alisa (11 years old) took part in the Foundations program and received extra help with their language studies. This made all the difference for Sergei, who is showing great progress with Hebrew, is making friends, and enjoys his time at school. Since the coronavirus crisis began, the ICEJ donated games, Hebrew textbooks, school supplies, books, and a tablet to Sergei and Alisa.

Danielle Mor of the Jewish Agency told Nicole Yoder, ICEJ VP for Aid & Aliyah, how grateful they are for the ICEJ’s support of the Foundations program.

“This enabled us to provide such a response in this time of need”, said Mor. “On behalf of Yirus, Sergui, Alisa and the many other families and children who benefit from the ‘Foundations’ program, the Jewish Agency sincerely thanks the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Thanks to your support, these children will be supported and aided in their virtual school studies by trained professional staff.”

The generous giving of our Christian friends around the world has made this essential educational support possible and we are deeply grateful. Nevertheless, many additional immigrant and disadvantaged native Israeli children around the country need our help. A gift of $600 will help us purchase a computer or contribute educational support for a child. Join us to ensure a smooth transition and lay a foundation towards a bright future.

Make a difference in a child’s life today!

 

Resilient Immigrants Achieve Careers in Israel

It is one thing to know a skill in your native language and culture, but it is a whole other thing to adapt that skill to new norms of practice in another country and in a foreign language. With the move, immigrants usually need to upgrade skills or become recertified in their profession. Unfortunately, many may ultimately end up having to switch professions altogether. We are always amazed at the resiliency of new Jewish immigrants who face so many obstacles on their way to integrating into Israeli society!

Witnessing these challenges, we are deeply grateful for our Christian friends around the world who help us provide essential support for immigrants in their first days and months in the Land of Israel. This year, 16 immigrant doctors benefited from recertification and Hebrew language courses, and an additional 27 young people began intensive computer programming courses that provided guaranteed employment upon completion. We are delighted to be a part of helping these 43 Jewish immigrants and their families make essential steps towards finding suitable employment – one of the keys to successful integration.

After 22 years of experience as a doctor of Internal Medicine in Russia, Dr. Irina Denisov made Aliyah to Israel with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. Irina is one of those resilient immigrants who pressed forward in the recertification program for Doctors, which included professional Hebrew classes for medical terminology and clinical observations in a hospital. She is currently in the last phase – a six-month shadowing period at the Children and Emergency Room Internal Medicine Department at the Barzilai Hospital. Once this period is over, she will receive her medical license in Israel from the medical committee.

Yelena and Vladimir Yeshchenko, and their four-year-old daughter, Augustine, made Aliyah from the former Soviet Union. Yelena shared her experience: “While acculturating, we had the opportunity to learn Hebrew in the same building in which we live, and my husband, Vladimir, took the Tel Ran Computer Training course to obtain his programming license in Israel. It turned out to be so much more than formal studies and low rent… We greatly appreciate the help we received from the Aliyah Center workers… My daughter was always happy with the afterschool and summer camp activities of the Aliyah Center, and this enabled us to focus on studies and work.” After successfully completing their vocational trainings, Yelena now works as a psychologist and her husband works as a computer programmer!

Ana Friedman made Aliyah by herself from Belarus and had already obtained her MBA and a master’s degree in Mathematics. Upon her arrival, she dove head-first into the computer programming course. Yet, she and no one else, saw the world pandemic coming. Ana explains: “Six months ago, no one thought that we would need to study at home through zoom. Despite this trying coronavirus period, the staff at the Aliyah Center and Tel Ran College turned our studies into a fascinating journey… We managed to progress in our studies, and we gained so much knowledge - not only of the Hebrew language - but of computer coding as well. We also received answers to any questions we had.”

The computer programming course is designed for young adults, ages 25-40, who have completed their undergraduate degrees and who are proficient in English. Participants are immersed in an intensive curriculum, which demands a serious commitment of 430 hours in computer theory, 350 hours of practical training, 200 hours developing a personal program that is presented at the end of the year, and 500 hours of Ulpan. In addition, all participants are invited to attend specialized workshops that focus on professional cultural adaptation, the job-seeking process, financial planning, and the Israeli tax and national insurance systems

Nicole Yoder, the VP of Aid & Aliyah noted that “Israel is greatly in need of additional medical and high-tech professionals to fill shortages in these key areas. Therefore, we at the ICEJ will continue to support vocational training programs which are so crucial for both new immigrants and the country – particularly in this time of crisis.” In January 2021, we are looking forward to welcoming 20 French immigrants who will soon arrive to begin the program.

Join us in equipping many more Jewish immigrants and their families with the skills, training, and experience they need to thrive in their careers here in the land of Israel!

 

 

Latest Wave of Ethiopian Aliyah Becoming Urgent!

The latest reports out of Ethiopia continue to raise concerns for the safety of the Ethiopian Jewish community in the northern province of Amhara, where an armed insurrection in neighboring Tigray is threatening to spread and endanger over 6,000 Jews still stuck in transit camps in Gondar awaiting their chance to make Aliyah to Israel. Thankfully, two Jewish Agency flights with 500 Ethiopian immigrants will land next Thursday, 3 December, and the ICEJ will be one of the main sponsors of this airlift operation. But for the remaining Jews back in Ethiopia, time may be running short.

Israel’s government decided five years ago to bring home the last remnant of some 10,000 Ethiopian Jews living in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa. The Christian Embassy has sponsored Aliyah to Israel for over 2,200 Ethiopian Jews since then, but the immigration process has been slow and the challenges to the well-being of those left behind are mounting.

The region has been suffering under a prolonged drought, while a massive plague of locust also has hit East Africa this year. As a result, food supplies are running short and prices are spiraling upward. Many Jews in the transit camps are malnourished, especially children. And Ethiopia is now weathering a serious wave of coronavirus. Add to this the armed rebellion which erupted two weeks ago in the breakaway province of Tigray, just 45 miles from the Gondar transit camps, and the situation has become quite worrisome, particularly for their relatives in Israel.

Over recent days, nine Israeli workers and volunteers had to be rescued from the fighting in Tigray. Even more concerning are reports of a massacre of 600 non-Tigrayan villagers who were slaughtered by child soldiers while rebel troops stood by. This has heightened fears of tribal warfare throughout the region, with the Jewish community having little means of protection.

This comes after news that a member of the Gondar Jewish community was killed in a cross-border clash last week, while several rebel rockets also hit the Gondar airport – which would need to be used in case an emergency airlift is necessary to bring the Jews there out of danger.

Before the uprising, plans were already underway for Israel to bring the next group of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews home within the next few months. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem committed to assist with this initiative by helping to fund their Aliyah process, beginning with next week’s two planeloads. But the need appears to be more urgent each day, and we are asking you to help us be ready for accelerated measures.

Please consider making a generous donation to help more Ethiopian Jews reach safety and re-join their families in Israel. May the Lord bless you richly as you donate towards this very urgent and worthy cause!

Give towards our Ethiopian Aliyah efforts at: int.icej.org/civicrm

Please, watch an Israeli TV report on the current situation in Ethiopia.

 

Ethiopian Aliyah Faces New Challenge of Civil War

There are chilling reports of an insurrection in northern Ethiopia over recent days which have given added urgency to Israeli efforts to bring thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the region home to Israel. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has committed to assist with this initiative by funding Aliyah flights over coming months, beginning with an ICEJ-sponsored flight of 200 expected to arrive in December. We are monitoring the situation in the Gondar region, where most of the remaining Jews in Ethiopia have been stuck in transit camps for up to two decades, and we are looking to our friends and supporters to help us with this prophetic and humanitarian mission.

On November 4th, militia leaders in the northern province of Tigray launched attacks on Ethiopian military forces in a bid to break away from the central government in Addis Ababa. After two weeks of sustained fighting, the Ethiopian army has made some advances in putting down the uprising, but the fighting has persisted. The clashes have claimed a number of victims and triggered concerns among Israeli officials for the safety of Jews living in the Gondar transit camps some 45 miles away.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel also are reporting that the outbreak of hostilities has caused much stress and fear among their relatives still in Gondar.

One Jewish man residing in the Gondar camp, Girmew Gete, 36, died in the fighting this week as he was working near the border between the provinces of Amhara and Tigray. Gete had been waiting with his family to immigrate to Israel for 24 years, and was hoping to be reunited soon with his 84 year-old grandmother who lives alone in the Israeli town of Kiryat Gat.

Meantime, several rebel rockets struck the Gondar city airport this week. The airport would need to be used for any evacuation flights if Israeli authorities deemed it necessary to carry out an emergency airlift of the Gondar Jewish community anytime soon.

The Israeli government has approved plans for bringing home an initial group of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews over coming months, an operation which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as an “airlift” when speaking with his Ethiopian counterpart this week about the escalation in Tigray.

Up to 9,000 Jews remain in Ethiopia, living in poor conditions in transit camps for decades awaiting their turn to move to Israel. Three-fourths of them are in Gondar and the rest in Addis Ababa.

In 2015, the Israeli government decided to bring them home, but the process has been slow. So far, some 2,200 Ethiopian Jews have been brought over the past five years, all on Aliyah flights sponsored by the Christian Embassy. This includes 268 on three flights this year, despite Corona-related travel bans.

Aliyah flights for this next group of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews are supposed to start in December and will take several months to complete. The costs per person for bringing them home to Israel is currently higher than normal, but the Israeli government has decided to bring them as soon as possible.

Other urgent concerns facing the Jews in Ethiopia are the widespread malnourishment in the transit camps, the spread of the Coronavirus in the country, and a massive locust plague hitting all of East Africa.

Thus, this latest wave of Ethiopian Aliyah has become an urgent humanitarian mission! The opportunity is here to help bring home several thousand more Ethiopian Jews who are desperate to reach Israel. But we need your help.

Please consider a generous donation to help these very deserving people re-join their families in the Jewish homeland. May the Lord bless you richly as you donate towards this very urgent and worthy cause!

You may also want to watch our documentary “Journey of Dreams” – filmed when an ICEJ team recently visited the transit camps in Ethiopia to see first-hand the difficult conditions in which thousands of Ethiopian Jews are now living. It is very moving to see their determination to reach the Land of Israel, in order to be reunited with their families and the Jewish people. Watch the documentary at: int.icej.org/documentary

We also encourage you to watch a video report on the arrival of over 100 Ethiopian Jews on an ICEJ-sponsored Aliyah flight earlier this year. They were greeted by Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian-born cabinet minister in Israel’s modern history.

 

  

Bringing Home the Sons and Daughters of Zion

Besides bringing almost 1500 Jews on flights to Israel this year, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem also has been sponsoring 201 Jewish youths from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states in Youth Aliyah programs which prepare them for moving to Israel. We are excited to report that these Jewish teens and young adults are now in the process of making the move to Israel.

Earlier this month, 89 of these youths arrived at Ben-Gurion on a flight from Russia, while another 80 came from Ukraine (pictured) on a flight sponsored by our friends at Christians for Israel International (marking their 40th anniversary). An additional group of 25 came from Belarus this week, and seven more will arrive soon from Latvia. So, despite Corona the great Ingathering of the Jewish people continues, and the ICEJ offers you the opportunity to be directly involved.

Over the past 15 years, the ICEJ has supported Jewish teenagers in the former Soviet republics to take part in the Naale and Sela programs managed by the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Naale program gives Jewish teens from the Diaspora the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Israel and study in some of the nation’s best high schools for 3-to-4 years. About 90% of the students who come on the Naale program end up staying in Israel and approximately 60% of their parents make Aliyah as well.

Sela is a home-away-from-home program for those who are looking to pursue a prestigious international education, take lessons in Hebrew and other languages, engage with Israeli society and culture, meet new friends here, and just experience life in Israel. By the end of the eighth month, all program participants receive an Israeli identity card.

These Youth Aliyah programs have proven to be a huge success over the years in bringing Jewish children to Israel ahead of their parents, as it is often easier for the youngsters to learn a new language and adjust to new surroundings, and then help the parents acclimate once they arrive. And it has been a great blessing for the ICEJ to support these unique and highly effective Aliyah programs over the years.

In 2020, the ICEJ has been very active with the Naale and Sela programs by sponsoring over 200 Jewish youths attending camps and seminars, and by providing transportation to and from testing centers and camps in Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Russia.

In January, the ICEJ helped fund a Winter Seminar which drew children and young adults from the religious community in northwest Russia. They learned about Israel, and life for Jewish people during Soviet times.

In February, the ICEJ sponsored a Weekend Aliyah seminar in Irkutsk, Siberia for 60 young adults, and assisted a Naale Aliyah Youth Seminar attended by 82 youngsters in Odessa, Ukraine.

In March, we assisted with a Naale Youth Aliyah seminar for 50 students in Riga, Latvia.

The ICEJ also provided transport for participants in two summer camps held in Saulkrasti, Latvia. Each camp had 51 attendees, who gathered in two shifts of approximately 25 each. There also were 17 adult leaders and teachers. This all required two buses due to Corona health restrictions, which the ICEJ was happy to provide.

Another 34 teens participated in a Youth Camp and Seminar in Latvia in August, sponsored by ICEJ. They discovered rules for financial well-being, learned about daily life in Israel, and participated in theater classes.

In September, we again provided transportation for 44 Naale applicants to go through the testing center phase of Aliyah in a safer environment.

This week, the latest group of Naale students arrived from Belarus, which is experiencing a surge in Coronavirus cases along with widespread political unrest. The ICEJ arranged buses to the airport for them and their parents. Next week, we will repeat the process for another flight of Sela students and their parents, including our sponsorship of vans to collect them from nine cities throughout Belarus for the trip to Israel.

Learn more about the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts at: int.icej.org/aliyah

Donate Here! 
 

Crossing the Jordan

Standing recently at the River Jordan made me think of the great moments that have happened there, especially how Joshua led a whole nation into a new destiny. In fact, the story of Joshua and the Israelites conquering the promised land has occupied my thoughts often over recent years.   
 
After 40 years of wandering the desert, the Israelites finally reached their destination, the land of Canaan. This represented a significant shift on many levels. Israel needed to change their thinking, attitude, and behavior. Once Israel passed over the River Jordan, they needed a new approach. What had worked in the wilderness was no longer good enough in this new territory. It is a lesson for all of us today.
 
Joshua’s ascent to leadership marked a dramatic shift for Israel, a transition from nomadic desert tribes into a victorious nation conquering the land of Canaan. This transition was miraculous and brought upon them by God. The day the people of Israel crossed the Jordan, they celebrated their first Passover (Pesach) in the promised land. While Jericho was not yet captured, they celebrated Pesach with the produce growing in the land of Israel. Suddenly something happened they might not have expected. The blessing of manna, the bread of angels, no longer appeared. 
 
Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year (Joshua 5:12).
 
In many ways, this change was long expected, as their daily diet now became far more diverse. But the big change was that Israel now needed to sow and gather and work the land. Seedtime and harvest now required a new approach of laboring in the fields and orchards to bring in the annual crops. 
 
It also marked a radical change in military strategy. Once a nation that only defended itself against attackers in the wilderness, Israel now needed to go on the offensive and conquer new territory. They would no longer live a nomadic life, following God through a barren wasteland—God now asked them to take fortified cities and settle in their land allotments.
 
That’s why when Joshua led the people of Israel over the Jordan, he required them to keep their eyes on the ark of the covenant and follow its lead—because “the way by which you must go . . . you have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4b). A new way and new experiences were waiting for them. Thus, Israel needed a new mindset of faith and expectation. In some ways, they needed a new theology—they were now in a completely different paradigm of salvation history than their fathers. 
 
During their 40 years in the wilderness, Israel lived on “deferred hope.” Many Christians today live in that same mode of deferred hope. They became content to live in a spiritual desert that was never truly intended for them as sons of God. Israel was indeed destined for a period of desert wandering. Because of their unbelief, God did not allow them to rush right into the promised land but led them by a longer route through the wilderness. This was an important part of their journey. And there are periods when God might lead you and me through desert seasons because these times often impact and change us more than times of blessing and plenty.
 
But it was never God’s purpose for the Israelites to spend their entire lifespan in the desert. It was instead God’s judgment that a whole generation would wander in this place of unfruitfulness for four decades and perish in the wilderness.
 
Yes, it was a time of divine protection, provision, and God’s faithfulness. The Bible says their clothes did not wear out (Deuteronomy 8:4), and there were no feeble or sick among them. God faithfully provided for His people. But the desert was supposed to be only a brief transition period leading them to a greater destiny. Tragically, an entire generation never saw the promised land and missed out on what God had for them. 
 
Today the same is true for many people in the Church. Too often we are all too ready to settle for less than what God has intended for us. But like Joshua, God is calling us to cross the River Jordan into the promises and destiny He intends for the children of God. 
 

There are Four Biblical Principles in the Story of Joshua that I would Like To Highlight: 

1. The Expectation of Something New 

This central quality not only characterized Joshua but also all great men in the Bible—and even in church history. Revivals have come because men looked at the status quo, compared it with the Bible, and realized the people of God were destined for more. That is why Martin Luther, John Knox, John Wesley, and many others anticipated revival and even impacted nations.
 
Joshua dared to step out in faith on the “way you have not gone before.” The prophet Isaiah encourages us to be ready for new things that God wants to do even in our time. “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18–19; see also Isaiah 42:9, 48:6).
 
It means no matter how dry our situation might be, God encourages us to expect the new thing, even “streams in the desert”!

2. Faith and Courage 

When Moses commissioned his successor to take over, he repeatedly told Joshua to be “strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:6–9). Moses understood this was the main quality needed to enter and possess the land. The book of Hebrews affirms that it was an “evil heart of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12) that caused them not to enter their rest in the land of promise. God is looking for a people who are not impressed with the giants in the world and the onslaught of evil. Rather, He looks for men and women who know there is nothing impossible with God and understand that if God is with us, none can be against us.

3. A People Hungry and Thirsty for Righteousness 

Another essential quality in Joshua’s life was his total dependence on God’s Word. He did not do things his way but God’s way. Repeatedly, the book of Joshua records that he did all “according to the word that Moses commanded him” (Joshua 4:10; 8:30–31, 35; 10:40, etc.). This was exactly what the Lord instructed him to do from the beginning of Joshua’s calling. “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7). The key for Joshua’s success was his obedience to the Word of God—his being careful not to compromise, neither to the left nor the right. Make it your practice to spend time daily in God’s Word. It is a key for your success.

4. Eyes Fixed on the Ark 

Just as Joshua commanded the ancient Israelites to keep their eyes on the ark of the covenant carried on the priests’ shoulders, we also need to be a people who keep our eyes upon Jesus. He is the Great Shepherd we follow as he guides us. Here again, the Word of God is essential. His Word is a lamp unto our feet, and God has promised that His Spirit will lead us. A book that has touched me tremendously is The Practice of the Presence of God by a certain Brother Lawrence. He was a simple monk working in a European monastery kitchen whose advice was sought by leaders of his time because he indeed practiced living in God’s presence. He was a man of prayer. This coronavirus season is one that is forcing us all to walk in ways we have never passed before. We cannot afford to lose sight of Jesus!

5. A People of Battle 

The land of promise was not a paradise on earth but a battlefield that needed to be conquered. It was not child’s play to take possession of the land—God warned Israel several times that after they passed the Jordan, new challenges awaited that outstripped their capabilities. God declared through Moses that upon entering the land they would encounter “seven nations greater and mightier than you” (Deuteronomy 7:1). In Deuteronomy 9, this warning is even more explicit: 
 
Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, “Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?” (Deuteronomy 9:1–2)
 
It was this same seemingly hopeless situation that the generation beforehand had faced and wound up wandering in the desert for 40 years. 
 
Today, God is looking for people like Joshua and for the Calebs and Deborahs who are willing to take the battle to the gates of the enemy and possess what God has promised.

A Season of Opportunity 

Today God is leading His people to the border of the promised land. It is a land that holds tremendous promise for us, yet at the same time, it will take courage and faith to face the giants between us and our destiny. 
 
I truly believe that the current coronavirus crisis is placing many of us on the banks of the River Jordan, and God is inviting us into a new land of promise. He is inviting us to leave the place of mediocre Christianity characterized by weekly visits to church for two hours of upbeat music and motivational speaking that leaves us feeling good but does not help us face our giants. Too often I hear these days: “I hope this coronavirus crisis will be over soon and we can go back to how it was before.” I honestly dare not go back to how it was before. Here at the ICEJ, during the past six months, we have prayed more than ever before. We have seen God answering prayer and healing people from severe diseases. Every month more of our branches are committing to increased prayer for revival in Israel and their nations. They have witnessed a new hunger filling their gatherings for more from God and for revival. 
 
Entering the Promised Land means to develop a new passion and hunger for the promises God gave us in His Word. We need a whole new level of determination to shake off the dust of our religiosity and declare to God, to ourselves, and to the enemy that a new day is dawning, and that we are determined to enter into the promises of God. We need a fresh hunger for the Word of God and for His presence. 
 
So what is the territory the Lord has promised us? What is the destiny we should enter? It might look different for each person, as we all have different callings. But one territory the Bible invites us to conquer is our families. Joshua boldly prophesied over his own family: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). As parents, and particularly as fathers, this should be our battle cry regarding our children and our children’s children. 
 
For others, the battlefield might be demonic bondage and oppression of family members or loved ones. Let us remind ourselves that Jesus did not come to pacify the enemy camp but to destroy the works of the devil. In Mark 16:17 and following, we find a description of the promised land, which should be inherited by all who believe:
 
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17–18)
 
Yet another battlefield is our cities and nations. We are living in times when our nations are in an uproar, not only in the United States but in many countries around the world. It is a battle for the soul of our nations. Countries today are turning away from their godly and Christian heritage and are drifting into a swamp of open immorality and sin. God is looking for a people willing to stand in the gap and ready to take our nations back for him. 
 
One message the restoration of Israel teaches us today is that God is interested in the salvation of individuals and cares for entire nations. “Ask of me,” God says, “and I will give you nations as an inheritance” (Psalm 2:8). In one of our recent Global Prayer Gatherings, Suzette Hattingh said that our fatalistic prophetic expectation of the end times too often leaves us passive and complacent. How true that is! One core character trait the church needs is to be a source of hope. This hope never puts to shame. Let us hope and pray for our nations until Jesus returns. 
 
Today, even as you read this, make a personal commitment to cross into your personal promised land. Ask God to lead you into the new things He has for you and to carry out great exploits, even in this difficult time of coronavirus. Remember that if God is with us, who can be against us?   

— by Dr. Jürgen Bühler, President ICEJ President

Emerging from Isolation

For elderly Russian Jews visited by ICEJ Homecare, the coronavirus pandemic’s abrupt change of lifestyle was a shock. These elderly immigrants, who often feel uprooted from their land of origin, were now cut off from their children and grandchildren. In the first weeks of restrictions, the Homecare team brought groceries to their apartments and developed a “doorstep ministry” as we conversed with them from the stairwell. Now we are allowed a few in-home visits. We wanted to update you on what we have found as we have been checking in on some of these dear Israelis.

Tanya, who made Aliyah over 20 years ago from Ukraine, turned the crisis into a learning challenge. “The Eternal wants us to learn something,” she said. She began to study history books about Israel and make notes and then call one of her ultra-Orthodox grandsons to share what she learned. After six weeks of being by herself, she remarked: “As much as I missed my grandchildren, the history of Israel, which I didn’t know at all, came alive.”

Anna came to Israel in the 1990s with her mother and sister and settled in southern Israel. Besides disappointments with Israel, she still carries painful memories of anti-Semitism in Russia. Anna lives alone and shuns social contact to avoid being hurt by others. However, our regular visits over the years have resulted in a special relationship. Once restrictions eased, we sat in her modestly furnished apartment and inquired how she had fared through the lockdown. At the end of our visit, Anna could not restrain herself. “I would like to get a hug from you,” she pleaded. Amid such loneliness, no one can go without a touch of love. Wearing masks, we gave her a big embrace and left her smiling. “Your visits are my feast!” she likes to say.

Rosa also lives alone and grieves the loss of her sister and flatmate of many years. When we talked about the lockdown, we saw it had been a struggle. She lifted her arms and cried: “Every morning I begin with ‘Shema Israel.’ Hear O, God, Your grace and compassion over all Your children.” She learned the prayer in Yiddish from her parents back in communist Russia. This prayer has become a lifeline for Rosa in a sea of uncertainty, knowing she is not alone.

We have many more stories of ministering to these lonely Jewish immigrants during this challenging time. We indeed are called “for such a time as this” to bless and comfort Israel. Our hearts are grateful for the many believers from the nations who sow seeds of love into the work of ICEJ Homecare.

Who Might Make Peace with Israel Next?

Following the breakthrough in relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, many are wondering which Arab states might be next to make peace with Israel. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited several likely candidates, including Bahrain, Oman, and Morocco. Although he returned home without another diplomatic trophy to help US President Donald Trump’s reelection effort, there is reason to hope that progress will come soon enough.

Sudan

As we go to press Sudan has announced an interest in normalizing relations with Israel. With the approval of their provisional council, this will solidify an extraordinary change that has been taking place recently as Sudan has moved away from the Iran axis and stopped harboring radical Islamic terror militias on its soil. In return for this overture to Israel they are being removed from the list of terror sponsoring states and will reap financially including debt and sanctions relief. For Israel the benefit is more symbolic. The home of the famous Arab League Khartom Resolution of 1967, known as the “Three Nos: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel,” is now saying “Yes” to all three.

Oman

Oman seems the surest bet as the next Arab nation to join the peace camp. Oman’s rulers were the most vocal in their praise of the deal made by their next-door neighbor. And it has hosted three sitting Israeli prime ministers over recent decades, going back to Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and more recently, Benjamin Netanyahu. They also have extensive trade relations and other interactions with Israel. But they are holding back for now, perhaps to see what the UAE gets out of their deal or if Trump will be reelected.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is starting to open up more to the world and has developed quiet ties with Israel. But as guardians of Mecca and mainstream Sunni traditions, the ruling family will move slowly on both tracks. Yet interesting changes are taking place. As reflected by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the younger Saudi generations have access to the internet and are more open to western influences. They can now go see movies, while women are allowed to drive, travel without chaperones, and attend sporting events. There also are signs of warming relations with Israel. For instance, Riyadh is now letting commercial airlines—including El Al—fly over Saudi territory on routes to and from Tel Aviv. But it will take time, and for the present, the Saudis are sticking with their 2002 Arab peace initiative, which requires a Palestinian state before normalization with Israel.

Morocco

Finally, Secretary Pompeo made a stop in Morocco in hopes of coaxing its monarchy to close a deal with Israel. Morocco was once home to a large Jewish community that contributed much to the country, and that heritage still enjoys some measure of respect there. Morocco has hosted Israeli leaders and shown less hostility toward Israel than most Arab League states. But it also has its share of Islamic rejectionists—like the current prime minister, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some analysts also believe Rabat is conditioning peace with Israel on both Washington and Jerusalem, recognizing its disputed claim to the Western Sahara.

Meantime, Turkey, Iran, and the Palestinians themselves are actively fomenting opposition to the Israel-UAE normalization pact, trying to deter anyone else from concluding a peace accord with the Jewish state.

Progress toward peace between Israel and the Arab world is never easy. But the Trump team has managed a historic breakthrough, and more incremental advances can be expected. But it would take President Trump being returned to office in November for the current diplomatic momentum to be sustained.

—David Parsons is an author, attorney, journalist, and ordained minister who serves as Vice President and senior spokesman for the ICEJ

An Aliyah family welcomes twins born in Israel

Back in May, the four members of the Fraerman family were placed on a specially chartered ‘evacuation flight’ sponsored by the ICEJ which brought them on Aliyah from Moscow to Israel. The mother, Tatyana, was 32 weeks pregnant with twins and needed a lot of extra paperwork and persuasion with airport authorities to get her on a flight so close to term. Israel and Russia also were both in the midst of strict Coronavirus lockdowns and their flight was the last opportunity for her to travel to Israel before giving birth. But they made it!

We reported their story several months ago, and after their two-week quarantine the ICEJ TV team also caught up with the Fraerman family in Nahariya, where they were still settling down into their new life in Israel after their frantic journey from Russia.

“At Ben-Gurion Airport, we were immediately met by ICEJ staff and the Jewish Agency,” recalled the father Serguei. “Our children were presented with gifts and sweets, and we were photographed. Everything seemed to happen very quickly. l had not slept for two days before that, packing our luggage.”

Serguei and Tatyana shared an especially touching story about their eldest daughter Olga which happened during their departure. She wanted to bring her favorite scooter to Israel. However, when they reached the airport, they found out they could not do so.

“All our luggage was at the maximum weight allowance for every person. We simply did not have a place to take something else. The scooter is considered a separate luggage, and we needed to pay extra for it," said Serguei. “I told my daughter: ‘Let’s leave it, and we will buy another one when we get there.’ We told her that there is a sea there; she was dreaming about the sea, and she agreed to leave her scooter,” he recalled.

Aware of Olga’s story of sacrificing her scooter to reach Israel, the ICEJ team finished the interview with the family and took the children outside, where they were presented with new scooters for both daughters, as well as a new double stroller for the expected twins. [Make sure to watch our TV interview with the Fraerman family to learn more about their journey to Israel.]

Recently, we received an update from the Fraerman family. The twins were born in late June; the oldest is named David and the younger one is Semyon. Both boys are gentle and like to smile. Meanwhile, Olga has started school online and has many Russian-speaking friends in her class, who are helping her to learn Hebrew and understand her teachers. The youngest daughter, Lisa, goes to kindergarten and has already learned the count to ten in Hebrew. Tatyana takes care of the house and four children, while Sergei has found work.

It is very gratifying to see new Jewish arrivals getting settled in Israel and putting down their roots here. The Fraerman family has quickly grown from four to six, and are becoming part of the fabric of Israeli life. But there are many, many more Jewish families in nations near and far waiting to fulfill their dream of reaching the Land of Israel.

The ICEJ is now planning to assist with an expected wave of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews being brought to Israel in coming months. This special Ethiopian airlift has been approved by the Israeli government, and the first Aliyah flights are scheduled to start in December. The costs for bringing them to Israel is currently higher than normal, but the Jewish Agency says it is an urgent situation and is looking to the ICEJ to fund as many of these Ethiopian Jewish immigrants as we can.

We know firsthand that most have spent years in rickety transit camps waiting and dreaming of their moment to return to Zion. But this will only be possible if Christians like you join with us in bringing them back to the Promised Land.

Please consider what you can do to help us meet this great humanitarian need, and to fulfil biblical prophecy at the same time!

Give your best gift today to support the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts. 

 

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