Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein at JPost Annual Conference BDS panel.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is funding two “Freedom Flights to Israel” on Tuesday, one from France and another from Ukraine. The first plane to touch down at Ben-Gurion Airport will carry 83 adults and children, who the IFCJ says are the first of 500 French Jews making aliya on one of its flights. The second, carrying 200 Ukrainian immigrants, will land later in the day.
The IFCJ said it planned to bring some 2,000 Jews from 15 countries to Israel this summer.
What began as monthly aliya flights to rescue Jewish refugees from war-torn Ukraine has quickly blossomed into a robust immigration operation that brings Jews from Lugansk, Lyon, Barcelona and Buenos Aires and Melilla (a Spanish autonomous city in North Africa), and from other countries in between, among them Moldova, Brazil, France, Russia, Uruguay, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Argentina and several Arab states, the organization said.
“Now that the IFCJ is providing a more streamlined, personalized aliya alternative to the old, bureaucratic way of doing things, the skies have become a lot friendlier for olim,” said IFCJ president and founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
“We broke the [state’s] aliya monopoly 10 years ago when we helped launch Nefesh B’Nefesh and we’re doing it now again – all over the world, bringing 4,000 Jews to Israel since December 2014.”
After spending $187 million over the years to bring Jews to Israel through the Jewish Agency, the IFCJ created its own aliya department in December 2014 “to make sure that every Jew who wishes to come Israel is able to do so,” according to Eckstein. In May alone, the IFCJ said it received 1,000 calls from French Jews inquiring how to join an aliya flight.
“Aliya is not a dusty relic from the ’50s or the ’90s,” said Eckstein. “Recent events demand that Israel – and the entire global Jewish community – step up their efforts.
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