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Bringing Home the Sons and Daughters of Zion

ICEJ assists Jewish youths with Aliyah programs

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Posted on: 
12 Nov 2020
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

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