Aliya Day: Starting new lives in Israel

On Yom Aliya here's a look at how the IFCJ is helping Jews around the world realize their dream of living in Israel.

October 25, 2017 16:51
3 minute read.
Rabbi Eckstein descending one of our Fellowship Flights with Olim from the Ukraine

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, disembarks a plane bringing olim from Ukraine. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Anna, 35, lost her job working for a Venezuelan communications company in a state clampdown.

She resorted to working as a door-to-door beautician but could barely make ends meet.

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She was the last Jewish resident in a Caracas apartment building and feared for her safety.

Olha, 69, and her husband, Heorhii, 68, live in a rural village of the embattled Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. Barely hanging on with their meager state pension, the couple cannot afford vital medicines for Heorhii’s skin conditions.

The civil war is closing in on them, with the sounds of gunfire and shelling creeping toward their home.

The life of William Attal, 62, has been forever scarred by violence. His sister Sarah Halimi was murdered by a suspected Islamic extremist, one of many recent attacks targeting the Jewish community, and he concluded France was no longer safe for him, his wife and children – or for any Jew.

From France to Ukraine to Venezuela and beyond, Jews around the world are experiencing economic despair, intensifying antisemitism and even terrorism. But since 2014, more than 10,000 of them, including the people in these stories, are starting new lives in Israel, thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews).

“Aliya is the past, present and future of the Jewish state,” says the Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

“Our overriding goal is to help every Jew the world over who are threatened, to come home to their Jewish homeland in Israel, to realize their right, and their dream, of aliya.”

Since 2014 the Fellowship has, at its expense, flown those thousands of Jews from 26 countries around the world to Israel. The Fellowship has grown so active in aliya that in many of these countries it remains the only organization bringing Jews to Israel.

But the Fellowship does much more than simply offer free airfare to the Jewish state.

The Fellowship takes a holistic approach to aliya, providing seminars with practical tips on employment, education, Hebrew classes and schooling, healthcare and more to prospective olim in their home countries, before they board the plane to Ben-Gurion Airport.

The Fellowship’s support in each of those 26 countries is only the beginning.

Once in Israel, immigrants receive assistance including full grants – $800 per adult and $400 per child – along with a caseworker, who checks in on each oleh and conducts a needs assessment. Then, the Fellowship often provides basic needs including furniture, appliances, kindergarten classes and much more.

“We provide a lifeline to Jews around the world, from when they first consider aliya to ensuring they successfully settle in Israel,” Eckstein said.

“Every Jew we bring to Israel has their own story, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them every step of the way.”

That’s what happened to Henri Cohen, 38, who made aliya from France in July. Cohen said the Fellowship helped make the difficult process that much easier. “Making aliya is not just jumping on a plane, it’s a procedure,” he said. “The Fellowship helped me financially.

You feel that they really want to help. They understood me.”

Aliya is just part of the wide range of services the Fellowship provides the Jewish people worldwide and in Israel, where it also helps the elderly, Holocaust survivors, the Ethiopian community, Lone soldiers (in the country without close family that can help them) and minority Christian Arabs and Druse, among others.

While the Fellowship and its millions of Christian supporters worldwide are deeply committed to helping Israel’s most vulnerable, it also sees aliya as the key to strengthening the Jewish state – and it’s a message it underscores on Aliya Day and Aliya Week in Israel.

“Like Israel’s founders, we consider each oleh an investment in the future of Israel,” Eckstein said. “We think it’s so important to provide our olim the VIP treatment, and to embark together with each immigrant on this amazing new chapter in their lives.”

This article was written in cooperation with the IFCJ.

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