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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
 

 

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!

ICEJ Feeding Starving Jewish Children in Ethiopia

In 2019, at the request of Isaac Herzog the chairman of the Jewish Agency the ICEJ donated $100,000 to provide emergency nutritional support to Ethiopian Jewish children and nursing mothers in the community in Ethiopia waiting to make Aliyah to Israel.

Medical teams working in Gondar reported that at least 22 children were saved from starvation by this program, while many more were saved from hunger and the onset of long-term health problems. 

The program’s significant success has led to other children being referred by their doctors. Roughly 350 children – from newborn to five years old – and approximately 100 pregnant mothers receive ICEJ-sponsored meals daily. “Based on the past 18 month’s experience, ICEJ’s supplemental feeding program has proven to be vital to the health of the children in Gondar and extremely cost effective,” the Jewish Agency leadership said in a letter to the ICEJ. “We deeply appreciate ICEJ’s past generosity.” 

At the same time, the cost and availability of food throughout eastern Africa has risen dramatically due to a massive plague of locusts which has devastated agricultural output. Therefore, it is more urgent than ever for Ethiopian aliyah to resume and increase, bringing all those still waiting home to Israel at last! 

" ...Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:40

Israel to welcome another 400 Ethiopian immigrants on ICEJ-sponsored flights

After months of delay, in large part due to the lack of a new government, Israel will start welcoming another 400 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants this Spring on flights sponsored by the ICEJ. The renewal of the Ethiopian aliyah will give new hope to some 8,000 members of the Falash Mura community still in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa waiting – some for up to 20 years now – to be reunited with their families already in Israel.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has been sponsoring the Ethiopian aliyah flights over recent years, bringing home nearly 2,000 members of the ancient Israelite community since the government decided in 2015 to allow the last remnant of Ethiopian Jewry to return. Although many converted to Christianity over recent generations, often under economic duress, they are being allowed to move to Israel under a policy of family reunification. Most of those living in tough conditions in the transit camps have close relatives among the 140,000 Ethiopian Jews already in Israel.

Senior Israeli and Jewish Agency officials have assured the ICEJ that as soon as a new government is formed, they will work diligently to bring home all those remaining Ethiopian Jews eligible to make aliyah within the next couple years. This means the ICEJ must be ready to assist with these increased flights as the historic Ethiopian Jewish return to Israel draws to a close.

Give today to the Aliyah work of the ICEJ!

Resilience in Adversity

Imagine you are a mother on a leisurely stroll down a walking path with your eight-year-old son. Suddenly, you hear the all-too-familiar sound of a faint voice. Your heart beats faster! It feels like a thousand butterflies swirling in your stomach. You know what is coming next. The low sound quickly turns into a commanding voice: Tseva Adom!, Tseva Adom! (“Color Red!”).

There is not even enough time for the siren. Instinctively, you know a rocket is coming and you only have a few seconds to find shelter. But your small son starts running after an even younger girl on the path and says: “Mommy, Mommy, she lives far away – I will go and take care of her.” Then he realizes, “but who will take care of me?”, and returns to his mother.

Sadly, this is a true story. Indeed, it is the harsh reality which Israelis in the southern Israeli town of S’dot Negev live with every day.

S’dot Negev is located within three kilometers of the very volatile Gaza border. Civilians here are confronted by the threat of underground terror tunnels popping up into their area, the constant challenge of explosive balloons flying overhead, and the ever-present fear of Hamas rocket attacks. At times, their area has been battered by barrages of 300 rockets in one day!

In response, the S’dot Negev Resilience Centre was opened to provide a place of refuge and healing for traumatized families in the community and surrounding region, offering short-term counselling and coping strategies. The clinic manager, Esther Marcos, says their approach is “therapy and treatment for after the effect, but a lot of preventative work as well”.

The work of the Resilience Centre has expanded from four to now twelve qualified therapists working with children, families and groups. It has seen a recent influx of teenagers and men who are suffering from stress.

The Resilience Centre needed to be enlarged, but first required a safe room to shelter people during a rocket attack. The ICEJ learned of this need and leaped into action.

“We felt such an urgency to help when we understood that those suffering psychological stress were left unprotected when looking for help and healing”, recalled Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah.

Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Garth and Tina Coonce of TCT Christian television network in partnership with ICEJ-USA, we were able to build the necessary safe room. It is made of reinforced steel and can withstand a direct rocket hit.

During a special dedication ceremony this week, an ICEJ team watched as a mezuzah was placed on the door frame along with a dedication plaque expressing our hope that this safe room would “provide protection and comfort to our dear Israeli friends”.

Nicole Yoder immediately noticed how much larger and nicer the whole remodeled facility was now compared to her initial visit. “I can hardly recognize the place,” she told her hosts. “It is great to see what else we helped to happen by giving the shelter room. May this room provide peace of mind.”

Concluding the dedication, Esther Marcos assured us: “The children and families are saying thank you!”

Because of the support of our faithful donors, the ICEJ continues to impact many lives in the Negev and all across this nation.

Please help us to bless and comfort Israel today!

A Hard Day at the Haifa Home

Holocaust Memorial Day is always a hard day for our residents, and the older they become, the more difficult it gets. Their memories become more distinct and vivid with age and bring some of them to a state of depression.

This year's ceremony took place at the Haifa Home. Instead of a street full of Survivors, family, police, and soldiers, this time the ceremony was held according to the regulations of the Ministry of Health with few residents and attendees.After the introduction and the lighting of the remembrance flame by Shalom Stamberg (97) and Miriam Linial (98), both Survivors of Auschwitz, the moving prayer “El HaRachamim” was sung, and 94-year-old Shlomo Shertzer recited the prayer of mourning.

Yudit Setz stood on behalf of the thousands of ICEJ supporters and spoke to the heart of the residents when she shared:

"Dear Holocaust Survivors, for you this is such a difficult day, and I embrace you with a warm and huge embrace in the name of thousands of Christians who admire you, who think about you, and who pray for you at this time. I have the great privilege of seeing you almost every day, and you have taught me so many things: how to never give up, regardless the difficult circumstances; to live with hope amid the biggest storm, knowing that one day the sun will shine again; to love instead of hate . . .”

We have a moral duty not only to remember but also to take care of those who survived and are still with us today—to let them live out their lives in dignity, respect, and love. We will continue to do so with God’s help.

How do you get a haircut during a pandemic

The hairdressers and barbers in Israel have been closed quite a while now. So what do you do if you desperately need a haircut?

Like Moses, you use what you have in your hand! One of the Haifa Home residents, 92-year-old Fanny, was a hairdresser in Israel for about 50 years.

Fanny was happy to offer her services and gave Eli, a volunteer at the Home, a wonderful new look. Cutting with the scissors she once used many years ago, and without glasses, she tackled the job with great confidence.

Fanny's Story

Fanny was born in Casablanca, Morocco. When the war broke out in Morocco, children were not allowed to go to school anymore. Many Jewish people were put into ghettos, where no doctors were allowed to help and where people had hardly anything to eat. Fanny vividly remembers the bombardments in their street that killed many Jewish people. She will also never forget the sickness and hunger. In 1948, she and her family started the long journey to their new homeland, Israel.

 

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