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ICEJ stands with Israeli Care-Givers and Community Protectors!

The atmosphere was filled with excitement, but shhh, it is a surprise!

With joy, the ICEJ’s AID team recently went about gathering special messages of encouragement from ICEJ national offices around the world and preparing care gift packages for Israeli care-givers and local security teams and first-responders who live and work along the Gaza border. They have just been through another rough time serving their communities during the recent Hamas rocket war, and we felt they deserved a special ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice and service.

Personalized messages of hope along with photos were sent from Australia, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Fiji, Kenya, Switzerland, Finland, Holland, Germany, Italy, France, America, Canada, South America, and other nations and regions, each with a message carefully placed in a uniquely painted gift card. Many of the messages included the scripture from Deuteronomy 31:7 “…Be strong and courageous…” Unknown to them, these were the same words written in Hebrew “chazak v'ematz” (be strong and courageous!) that the AID department requested to have painted on beautifully handcrafted coffee mugs for those receiving our care packages.

The gifts were earmarked for dozens of psychologists, therapists and security officials who selflessly gave of their time and energy around the clock to ensure community safety and resilience in the face of thousands of rocket attacks in the recent rocket war with Hamas in Gaza. They did this while facing the same concerns and fears for family and loved ones as the rest of the Israeli population. The care packages included the personalized card, jam, wine, olive oil, chocolates, tea, coffee, pottery coffee mugs, and a lovely notebook made from recycled paper, bound and hand painted by elderly new immigrants. The hope was that each recipient would take the opportunity, after all the stress and exhaustion, to feel appreciated and to stop and be renewed with loved ones.

Soon, the AID vehicle was packed full and ready to head south to deliver the care packages! Beaming with excitement, the AID team made their way to the Eshkol and Sadot Negev Resilience Centers situated within a few kilometers of the Gaza border.

The unsuspecting care workers were caught by surprise when our team came in laden with gifts for them, and more than one person commented on how much thought went into the gifts. Together with the blessings that came from around the world, there also were special items made with love from all over Israel – from the Golan, the Shomron region, and Jerusalem – all in a collective blessing meant especially for our friends in the South. As an added benefit, the gift package items were specially chosen to strengthen local businesses and immigrant artists across Israel.

At the Eshkol Resilience Center, chief psychologist Yizhar Sha’ar was greatly moved by the gesture. “Knowing that people notice what we are going through and support us is what enables us to be resilient and strong in the face of ongoing attacks. That resilience is the most important thing that keeps us going,” he said.

Ma’ayan Frenkel, Director of the Sadot Negev Resilience Center, shared with Nicole Yoder, ICEJ VP of AID and Aliyah, how their center has been busier than ever since the recent Gaza rocket war ended. “We are providing family therapy and at least three group workshops a day for educators and families with children, in addition to personal trauma treatment sessions,” she related.

Esther Marcus, a trauma center manager and therapist, acknowledged that the work has been so intense, their own families have suffered as a result of the many extra hours invested. Upon receiving her gift package, Esther said it felt like they had just received a “big hug”!

Nicole reassured both those who gave essential emotional care and those who stood ready to protect their communities that the ICEJ stands with them and, together with our friends worldwide, wanted to encourage them that they are not alone. “Our many friends worldwide watched with concern, prayed for you, held rallies on your behalf and gave generously for bomb shelters, firefighting equipment and other trauma or crisis-related support,” Nicole said. “Your courage, depth of conviction, resilience, selflessness and sacrificial dedication are an inspiration to all of us!”

Nicole’s message and the gift packages she brought touched all the Israelis deeply.

Thank you for your support, which enables the Christian Embassy not only to meet the needs of vulnerable towns and villages living near the Gaza border, but also to care for those who worked tirelessly behind scenes to help their communities endure and recover from this latest trauma. Your giving is very much appreciated!
 

ICEJ helps delayed group of Bnei Menashe finally reach Israel

A group of 114 Bnei Menashe who were stuck in transit for the past month in New Delhi due to some having coronavirus finally landed in Israel on Sunday as part of an emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem serving as a main sponsor of this urgent Aliyah operation. In total, the ICEJ sponsored flights for 131 out of the 274 Bnei Menashe who were brought to Israel over the past month. We also covered the delayed group’s housing and meals for about one-third of their four-week stay in New Delhi.

The arrival of new olim to Israel is always a very touching and emotional event. Batya Misao, along with her four children, were among the 114 immigrants who arrived in Israel on Sunday night. The Aliyah story of this Israelite family is nothing short of a heart-rending journey.

Batya has been dreaming about making Aliyah to Israel for as long as she can remember. Once she married her husband Samuel and they started a family, the dream grew to include their children – twelve-year-old Ellan, nine-year-old Leah, five-year-old Zohar, and three-year-old Nuriah.

It is difficult to imagine what a blow this family experienced as they were full of bright hopes when tragedy struck last year. Samuel died in a devastating car accident. After that, it seemed that all of Batya’s plans, her hopes and dreams, had collapsed overnight.

However, Batya managed to put the pieces of their life back together. As a single mother now, she always kept a positive attitude, still waiting for the day when she could bring her family to Israel to fulfil their dream, carrying the memory of her husband Samuel home with her to Zion. She knew that even in the midst of darkness, there is always room for a ray of hope.

Due to a major surge in coronavirus deaths and infections in India, the Israeli government decided earlier this year to speed up the Aliyah process for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India already approved to immigrate to Israel. Descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh, half the group were about to make their dream come true, including Batya and her children. A specially chartered flight was arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy, to bring the first 274 of the pre-approved group in an emergency airlift in May.

But right before they were about to depart on the final leg from New Dehli, about three dozen people in the group tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to stay behind, along with their families. This meant the Misao family had to wait not knowing when they could finally reach Israel. It ended up another 27 long days and nights of waiting before everyone recovered and the entire group could fly on to their desired destination. Thankfully, the ICEJ stepped in to assist with their urgent need for help with housing, food, and care for these families until they could finally leave for Israel.

What a joy for the Misao family to finally be back in the land of their ancestors after 27 centuries in exile and an extra four weeks in New Delhi.

The Bnei Menashe, or “sons of Manasseh,” claim descent from one of the lost tribes of Israel. Their ancestors were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian Empire some 27 centuries ago and wandered throughout the East until they reached what is now northeast India, between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Despite their wanderings and isolation, they kept their ancient traditions alive, such as honoring Shabbat and refusing to eat pork. Most of all, they kept alive their dream of one day returning to the Land of their forefathers.

The next airlift of the second group of 274 Bnei Menashe is expected in early September, so please join with us in helping with their prophetic return to Israel. Give generously today to the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!

Support and Solidarity for Israeli communities in the South

Ilan Keith Isaacson is security chief for the Eshkol Regional Council, which stretches across 40 kilometers of the 65-kilometer Israeli border with Gaza. During a recent interview for the weekly ICEJ Webinar series online, he shared about the conflict with Hamas in May and the constant threats his communities face.

“When 4300 missiles are being shot into Israel within 11 days, it’s very hard to function in our area”, he said. “In the Eshkol region, there were 729 sirens in those 11 days and about 30% of the missiles which were shot into Israel fell into the Eshkol region. But something more concerning to us is that 120-millimeter mortars, which is a very deadly bomb, fell directly into our kibbutzim - almost 80 in all. To hear the sirens hourly is one thing, but when the mortars are falling in the kibbutzim, that is something else – that is actually terrifying!”

Knowing how volatile this area along the Gaza border is, the ICEJ has worked closely with the Eshkol region to provide equipment for security volunteers and first responders, including ‘walkie-talkie’ radio equipment to respond quickly to a crisis, fire-fighting trailers and protective clothing for use in extinguishing the ongoing arson fires started by incendiary balloons released from Gaza into Israeli farming fields, and finally dozens of life-saving mobile bomb shelters.

Expressing his gratitude, Ilan said: “Thank you for the bomb shelters... We only have between 5 to 15 seconds to get into shelters here. Thank you for what you give to the rescue and search teams of the municipality. Thank you for the fire volunteers’ equipment so that we can deal with these very extreme situations. With all these things, there are no better words than ‘just saving lives’.”

Through your generous donations, the ICEJ had an opportunity to show support to the Israeli communities living on the Gaza border earlier this month by delivering much-needed fire-fighting suits as well as a life-saving mobile bomb-shelter.

Please watch our video showing the demonstration of our solidarity with these vulnerable Israeli communities in the south of Israel.

To ensure these communities along the Gaza border are well prepared to protect themselves from further rocket onslaughts, please help the ICEJ continue to provide them with bomb shelters and other needed security equipment. Your gifts are saving lives!

 

Israeli children near Gaza learn resilience through creativity

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for AID and Aliyah, just visited Israeli communities near the Gaza border to offer support and see how they are doing since the recent Gaza conflict ended.

Arriving at the Sadot Negev Resilience Center, Nicole was greeted by the center’s manager Esther Marcus, who expressed an emotional thanks from a heart overflowing with gratitude to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem for our ongoing support.

Esther cannot recall how many times during this latest Gaza conflict that the red alert siren sounded at all hours day and night, signaling a constant barrage of missiles headed their way.

“You are saving lives and thank you for saving my life!” said Esther, as she recalled having to run to the center’s safe room built last year by the ICEJ. “People ask me all the time; do you get used to it? – I say, you never get used to someone trying to kill you, but you do learn to cope, and you build your resilience,” said Esther.

Serving the local community, the Sadot Negev Resilience Center is located within three kilometers of the Gaza border. The center was built as a place of refuge and healing for traumatized families in the community and surrounding region, and offers short-term counselling and coping strategies provided by qualified therapists. A hotline kept therapists busy round the clock while under attack, however, once the ceasefire began the Resilience Center went into high gear offering workshops for children and their parents to help them process the ordeal they had just experienced.

“Each child participates in a workshop together with their parents, where they learn different ways and techniques for coping with their anxiety around what’s going on”, Esther explained. She added that these workshops are also available for educators to enable them to work with the children when they return to school as well.

The generous response of our Christian supporters worldwide enabled the ICEJ to provide funds to the Resilience Center to assist traumatized children participating in the workshops.

“You give us the financial backing and the ability to buy tools, toys, and gifts for children, and they know that it comes from people like yourselves who are giving them a virtual hug and helping them cope. At the same time, they are also learning the importance of giving and accepting”, said Esther.

“Here in the Resilience center, you have enabled us to now help hundreds of families”, Esther told Nicole. “We are running two workshops every day, and thanks to you we have put together a special care package for our families.”

The care package contains a book which Esther wrote called The Colour Red, which is aimed at helping children understand what is going on and what action to take when the red alert siren rings out. Also included is a coloring book with colored pencils which is very therapeutic for children to absorb themselves in, as well as a stress-ball to squeeze or throw against the wall should they need to vent their frustration, other stress-relieving items, and a fun tube of bubbles to blow (helps with deep breathing and relieves stress).

“I just thank you from the bottom of my heart. We look forward to you coming and visiting and seeing that where we live is actually really beautiful”, said Esther. “And please God, one day [I pray] that there will be peace”, she added.

Please know that your generous donations have made it possible for us to assist vulnerable and traumatized communities near Gaza by providing essential safe rooms and other practical tools to cope with the trauma that comes with recurring attacks in the region. This support sends an important message to Israelis that they are not alone. This assistance especially helps strengthen those living on the front lines of battle, increasing their resilience during distressing times.

Please continue supporting the AID work of the ICEJ, which impacts at the very core of Israeli communities in need of our help.
 

 

Goodbye to a dream team!

In keeping within Israel’s visa regulations for foreign volunteers, sadly we must say goodbye to three amazing and professional women with unique giftings. These ladies dedicated several years of their lives serving residents at our Haifa Home for Holocaust survivors.

During their time in Israel, they had to deal with the difficulty of the pandemic and the recent Gaza war. As German Christian volunteers, Natalia, Debora and Kerstin have become an integral part of the lives of the residents and the running of the Home.

Tears will flow as we let go and say goodbye, but there is also much gratefulness for the immeasurable impact they have made on both the residents and staff, as well as the lessons they have learned in their own lives. Here are their impressions of their time serving at the Home:

Natalia Ochs, nurse (3 years)

The Holocaust Survivors show so much strength in every situation. I have gained so much from their wisdom.

In these three years I got to know myself even better; my weaknesses, and my strength and through the daily interaction with the residents I learned patience and humility. The Survivors showed so much strength even in the most difficult circumstances, which taught me not to panic so quickly. The most beautiful thing that happened during this time was that I felt God’s very deep love for the Holocaust Survivors.

Debora Wanner, physiotherapist (2 years)

At times there were many challenges, especially during the Corona pandemic and my time in the Haifa Home was not always easy. However, I was amazed to see how God used the difficulties to bring us closer to the residents, Israeli staff, and international caregivers. Besides the differences in culture, age, and religion, I see myself now as part of a big, accepting, and nurturing family called "the Haifa Home". Serving as a physiotherapist, I saw many changes in the residents and I will treasure a bucket-load of moments in my heart, like: a person smiling at me for the first time; a resident learning to walk again after a serious injury; a resident who hardly left her room before, willing to participate in a weekly gymnastic group; a hug of love shared shortly before a person died; someone’s difficult story of their past shared with me in secret; and a handmade scarf knitted as a surprise for me! I am so grateful for the opportunity to collect such beautiful memories and being able to see God at work daily!

Kerstin Hoffmann (optician by profession)

Israel and her people have left their unremovable footprints in my life. My heart’s desire when coming to Israel was: “I want to leave my comfort zone.” This happened far more intensively than I could have imagined. – Life starts after leaving your comfort zone! God has shown and taught me so many things during this time and He has used our dear residents for His purposes. It is not about me; it is about Him and His people. I have learned that my boundaries are not His limits. Time is one of the most precious things you can give, while friendship and trust need time to grow, and love knows its way. These Holocaust Survivors have so much love to give. It is always worth it to have patience and keep on going until you see growth in what you have invested. And, you will even be surprised how our heavenly Father has given you more than you could have asked for!

A new team on the horizon

After a long wait for applicants, in March we received applications from very professional and capable women, who feel called to come and serve with us. In August and September, we will be welcoming a new team of five ladies to the Haifa Home: two volunteers just out of high school; a physiotherapist and two nurses, who will help us further develop the level of services and quality of life for the residents of our Haifa Home community.

Thank you for your support to our special place of warmth and loving care for our precious Holocaust survivors in dire need of assistance.

ICEJ Bolsters Israeli Security and First-Responders During Gaza Border Tour

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem joined Operation Lifeshield on Monday (14 June) in hosting a visit to Israeli communities along the Gaza border to assess recovery and security efforts in the wake of the recent rocket war with Hamas, and to deliver vital security equipment to regional authorities.

Yesterday’s visit by an ICEJ delegation featured the delivery of a portable bomb shelter to the site near the Erez Crossing where IDF soldier Omer Talib was killed and two others seriously injured in the recent conflict, as well as the hand-over of 120 fire-fighting suits, complete with boots and an ICEJ key-ring carrying a special message to remind the local first responders and volunteer firemen to be strong and courageous. The field trip also included briefings from local security officials, a tour of the Gaza border fence and strategic overlooks into Gaza, and a visit to the Ashkelon factory where the mobile bomb shelters are manufactured.

Standing so close to the Gaza border on a beautiful summer’s day, it is hard to imagine that only a month ago, this area was a war zone. There is still a tangible tension in the air, as the sound of IDF drones buzz overhead, while a security officer warns, “anywhere you can see Gaza, Gaza can see you!” At any time, there could be an eruption destroying the delicate calm.

Over the past twelve years, the ICEJ has donated over 100 portable bomb shelters to Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as well as two dozen fire-fighting vehicles, to deal with the daily threats of terror and arson attacks emanating from Gaza. The ICEJ has another 15-to-20 bomb shelters now on order with Operation Lifeshield.

The solidarity visit began at the Ibim security center for the Sha’ar HaNegev regional council, where the fire-fighting equipment was transferred to local authorities.

“There are very complicated security challenges here, which have not stopped since 2001,” Ayal Chajbi, regional security chief for Shaar HaNegev, told the Christian visitors. “Throughout the recent conflict, we realized where we were missing bomb shelters and sirens and other security measures. But we also realized what we do have – good people who help!”

Chajbi explained why the top-grade firemen’s suits were so needed to fight the daily threat of incendiary balloons from Gaza, adding: “This is a time to say thanks to those who think of us. We pray that we won’t have to use this equipment, that it will be stuck in storage. But the reality is this will give us protection so our communities can continue with their lives.”

“You should know that Christian friends all over the world care about you and are praying for you,” responded Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid & Aliyah. “We are worried for your safety when we hear about the many deliberate fires and other dangers you face here. This is our opportunity to show our support through our actions, and to encourage you to be strong and courageous.”

Later, the delegation watched as a mobile bomb shelter was lowered into place at the entrance to a community area in Nativ HaAsara, just meters from the Gaza fence, which the IDF and Magen David Adom (MDA) use to evacuate the wounded in times of crisis along the Gaza border. This shelter is door-less as we are told that there simply is no time to even open a door to the shelter in this area. With only seconds to spare after the red-alert siren, once you enter the shelter’s passageway, you are safe. The words on the shelter’s dedication plaque “to provide protection and comfort for our dear friends” will stand firm as testimony that this particular shelter was made possible by a generous gift through ICEJ Switzerland.

The IDF soldier killed in the recent rocket war fell near this spot due to a Hamas anti-tank rocket, but the bomb shelter will now allow the IDF and MDA to coordinate evacuations from the area more safely in future.

Thank you for supporting the ICEJ in ensuring that the vulnerable Israeli communities living on the edge of Gaza are protected.
 

 

Bnei Menashe stuck in India one week closer to home in Israel

Last week we reported about 115 Bnei Menashe immigrants from India who were on their way to Israel but were stopped in transit in New Delhi after a number tested positive for coronavirus. Thankfully, we can now update you that many donors responded to the ICEJ’s urgent appeal for help with housing, feeding and caring for these families until they can finally leave for Israel.

The group was among the 275 Bnei Menashe immigrants who were scheduled to board a specially chartered emergency flight for Israel last week arranged by The Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, and sponsored in part by the Christian Embassy. We were grateful that 160 of those new immigrants managed to arrive in Israel on time, with 99 sponsored by the ICEJ. Unfortunately, this joyful moment was dampened by the news that the other 115 Bnei Menashe were held back after several dozen tested positive for COVID-19, thereby delaying their homecoming.

It has been a difficult experience as they were all so eager to reach Israel after 27 centuries of exile from their ancestral homeland. They had already been approved for immigration, and many had closed their businesses and sold their homes in anticipation of the move. But suddenly, they were stopped and placed in quarantine, and told they would have to remain there until Indian and Israeli health authorities agree it is safe for them to travel on to Tel Aviv.

"It's like a one-time opportunity, a golden opportunity to get such a chance", one of the Bnei Menashe told a local Indian newspaper.

They had no means to pay all the costs of their housing, food and medical care, and thus were totally dependent on the mercy and generosity of others. This was a dilemma we could not ignore. And thanks to everyone who responded, the ICEJ was able to cover the expenses for their first week of staying in New Delhi. And we are hopeful that we can continue to help meet this urgent need for another week or so, until they are able to complete their journey home to Israel with a good bill of health.

Since Israel allowed the resumption of the Bnei Menashe Aliyah in 2012 over 2,400 have arrived in the second wave and almost half of them have been sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

But the Bnei Menashe community has approximately 6,000 members still living mainly in Manipur and Mizoram, in northeast India. They were officially recognized as “sons of Israel” in April 2005, when [Ashkenazi] Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar ruled that the Bnei Menashe come from Manasseh, one of the ‘lost tribes’ exiled from the northern kingdom of Israel some 2700 years ago.

Our support for the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to gather the Jewish people back in the historic Land of Israel, and in this particular case to “bring your descendants from the east” (Isaiah 43:5).

So let us who have begun this good deed complete it to the end. Give your best gift today to support the journey home of this ancient tribe of Israel.
 

 

Bnei Menashe Stuck in Transit to Israel Need our Help!

With India currently suffering from a major surge in coronavirus deaths and infections, the Israeli government recently decided to speed up the Aliyah process for 548 members of the Bnei Menashe community in northeast India who had already been approved for immigration later this year. A special charter flight was arranged by The Jewish Agency for Israel and Shavei Israel to bring the first half of the group in an emergency airlift last Monday, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem sponsoring flights for 99 of the 275 new immigrants expected on board.

The group had left their home villages in northeast India over a week ago for the long bus ride to a regional airport and from there to connect with their specially chartered flight to Israel. But right before they were to depart on the plane from New Dehli, a number of the group tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to stay behind with their families. Thankfully, the remaining 160 members of this Aliyah flight tested negative and were able to arrive in Tel Aviv on Monday. But the 115 who were left behind are now quarantined in a hotel back in India, with several hospitalized due to their worsening condition. They all need to be housed, fed and cared for over the next few weeks until they recover and can make the final leg of their journey to Israel.

These precious members of Bnei Menashe community, who claim descent from the Israelite tribe of Manasseh, were extremely excited about finally ending their 27 centuries of exile and separation from the Land and people of Israel. They also were anxious to reach the safety of Israel, which has been emerging out of the corona crisis.

To make this journey, they had sold their homes and businesses, left behind most of their possessions, and set off for their ancestral homeland. But suddenly, corona caught up with some in the group and they and their families are now in desperate straits with no means to take care of themselves. They are totally dependent on someone coming to help them endure the difficult days ahead until they make it home to Israel.

The Jewish Agency and others involved in planning this urgent airlift had not budgeted for this sudden emergency, and now they are looking to Christians to help cover the added expenses of housing, feeding and caring for these families during their long layover and then arranging a new chartered flight to bring them home at last.

What a shock to be finally heading home to reunite with the land and people of Israel, only to be waylaid by corona along the way! May we all open our hearts to their dire plight at this moment.

The ICEJ has decided to step in and cover as much of these urgent expenses as we can, but we need your help. Please give generously as we come forward to provide for these Bnei Menashe families stuck in New Dehli and help them to finally reach the Promised Land.

 

Triumphant steps for Jewish newcomers to Israel

The decision to immigrate to a new country is not always an effortless walk in the park. Much paperwork is required, and permissions need to be granted. Once these hurdles are overcome, the path ahead may not be so simple and straight forward, and each immigrant must discover for themselves the way forward.

*Sophia is a single mother with a 9-year-old daughter, *Rafaela, with special needs. Before her decision to immigrate to Israel, Sophia completed a master’s degree in education and was working as a daycare and kindergarten teacher. However, the desire to return to her Jewish homeland and the hope for a better life were so strong, that with determination she began her small family’s immigration process, booked their flights, and arrived with her daughter in Israel.

Adjusting to life in Israel was extremely challenging. Both Sophia and Raphaela struggled to adapt to a new culture and learn the Hebrew language. Israeli culture was foreign and frustrating, and differed in so many ways from their native South America. In addition, Sophia had the added burden of struggling financially to support her family.

Since Sophia came from a place of much economic and emotional chaos, she needed help understanding financial planning. For example, upon arrival Sophia accepted every credit card offered to her without realizing she would be paying high interest and extra charges for them.

Another setback came when her degrees were not accepted by the Israeli Ministry of Education before arrival. As a result, she could not work in her profession. Striving to support her family, she took odd jobs until she finally found work as a daycare assistant just before the corona crisis began. However, the daycare closed shortly after, leaving her on unpaid leave and ineligible for unemployment which only kicks in after a minimum of six months on the job.

Added to all of these challenges, Sophia urgently needed to find proper care for her daughter. Various challenges in her native country meant that Raphaela had not received any counseling or therapeutic treatment for her special needs for quite some time. Thankfully, unexpected relief was soon on the way!

Entering an integration center for new immigrants, Sophia found help through a mentoring program sponsored by the ICEJ. Having a professional mentor to offer guidance, support and set achievable goals, meant that the sun could start shining a little brighter again on Sophia and Raphaela’s future.

Help from the mentor meant that Raphaela was able to start participating in a therapeutic horse-riding course, and she began receiving hydrotherapy as well. Although Sophia did not initially pursue the goal of obtaining child support from Raphaela’s father, with her mentor’s guidance she has courageously begun the process. In the meantime, preparations are underway for when Sophia and her family need to leave the integration center, with approval already received for a rent reduction.

With her mentor’s help, Sophia successfully received approval by the Israeli Minister of Education for her M.A. and is now able to return to teaching. She also loves to act and to dance and always dreamt of learning to do make-up – interests that she is now able to pursue. Today, Sophia describes herself as “Israeli” and says that she really loves living in Israel. Over the past year, she has come to understand that every country has its unique culture and characteristics.

Nicole Yoder, ICEJ’s Vice President for AID and Aliyah, is thrilled that the mentorship program has made such a positive difference for Sophia and Raphaela.

“The challenges immigrants face are compounded by the fact that they lack everyday knowledge in their new environment and miss the support and advice of friends and family”, said Nicole. “Often, they do not know the right office to turn to, are unable read utility bills or complicated application forms for services, or generally are not aware of discounts or opportunities for assistance. We aim to smooth the way before them and minimize frustrations or obstacles so they can become firmly and confidently established in their homeland.”

Your support helps more Jewish immigrants take triumphant steps as they begin their new lives in Israel. A gift of $2,750 enables a brand-new Israeli immigrant family less than a year in the country to enjoy the supportive care of a mentor. And aiding immigrants who are slightly longer in the country but who have fallen into distress generally requires a larger investment of $5,500.

Thank you for helping the ICEJ ensure that there are professional mentors available to help newcomers like Sophia and Raphaela.
 

[*Real names and photos are withheld at request.]

ICEJ Helps Sponsor Urgent Aliyah of Bnei Menashe

Despite many challenges, a group of 160 Bnei Menashe landed in Israel on Monday as part of an emergency airlift arranged by the Jewish Agency and Shavei Israel, with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem serving as a main sponsor of this urgent Aliyah operation. Several hundred more members of the ancient Israelite tribe have been approved to immigrate to Israel, but for now they remain stuck in India, which is facing a sharp spike in the coronavirus.

Due to the surge in coronavirus cases in India, the Israeli government recently decided to launch an emergency airlift of 548 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe in northeast India to Israel by the end of May. Descendants of the lost Israelite tribe of Manasseh, they have already been approved to immigrate to Israel, and the ICEJ has committed so far to sponsoring Aliyah flights for 99 of these olim (newcomers).

Among the Israelite descendants who have returned to the Promised Land in modern times, the Bnei Menashe identify as part of the “lost tribe” of Manasseh from the northern kingdom of Israel exiled some 2700 years ago. Our support for the return of the Bnei Menashe is based on God’s promises to Israel to “bring your descendants from the east”, as we read in Isaiah 43:5.

The Bnei Menashe (“Sons of Manasseh”) are a people living in northeast India who claim that their ancestors were forcibly exiled from the Land of Israel in 732 BC by the Assyrians into the region of today’s Iraq and Iran. From there, they journeyed eastward along the Silk Road to China, where for centuries they are believed to have been part of the community of Kaifeng Jews. They later wandered southward during a time of persecution and eventually settled in the states of Mizoram and Manipur, located in an isolated enclave of India laying between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

From there, the Bnei Menashe continued to cling to their biblical traditions and identity. They kept the Sabbath and observed kosher laws, celebrated the Jewish festivals, and practiced sacrificial rites. Rediscovered in modern times, their Israelite ancestry was officially recognized by Israel’s rabbinic authorities in 2005.

Israel has allowed over 2,400 members of the Bnei Menashe community to make Aliyah so far. Starting in 2012, almost half of them (1119 in total) have come on Aliyah flights sponsored by the ICEJ.

Throughout their years here, the Bnei Menashe have become valued members of Israeli society, with many contributing to the nation as soldiers, medical professionals or other fields of endeavor. They greatly respect traditional family values, have a strong work ethic, and are deeply loyal to the Jewish state.

During Israel’s recent Independence Day celebrations in April, the Bnei Menashe had special reason to rejoice as a member of their community was honored as one of Israel’s outstanding soldiers at an official ceremony in Jerusalem presided over by outgoing President Reuven Rivlin.

For the Bnei Menashe community, Nadiv Khaute was not the first recipient of the President’s Medal of Excellence. In 2005, IDF Staff Sergeant Tamir Baite, who serves in the Shaked unit of the Givati Brigade, was honored. And in 2017, IDF Staff Sergeant Eliazer Menashe of the Golani Brigade was given the medal. Their success stories highlight the contributions that the Bnei Menashe are making to the State of Israel. The ICEJ is pleased to have a role in the return of this unique community to Israel.

The Bnei Menashe already in Israel have been serving the nation with honor and distinction, but many more are still waiting to make Aliyah.

Reuven and Yokhevet Thongkhai Haokip, from Nagaland, India, are anxiously awaiting their Aliyah date and the reunification of their family. When people ask them why they want to leave the good life they have in India, they respond: “If our father Abraham was willing to leave his land and his father’s house for the Promised Land, why shouldn’t we?”

Reuven, a retired police officer, and Yokhevet, a homemaker, have four daughters and two sons. Their eldest daughter, Maayan, made Aliyah in 2007 and lives in Israel with her husband and three daughters.

In 2015, their daughters Ayelah and Sarah also made Aliyah and raised their families in Israel. Since then, the family has been separated and now is the time to reunite them. We invite you to take a place alongside the ICEJ in helping bring the rest of their family and many other Bnei Menashe to Israel soon.

Please consider a generous donation in this important hour of need to help these Jewish people who are in distress to safely reach the land of Israel.

 

CREDIT PHOTOS as ‘Shavei Israel’

 

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