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An Ethiopian Jewish family’s bittersweet reunion in Israel

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11 Aug 2020
An Ethiopian Jewish family’s bittersweet reunion in Israel

This has been amazing year for the Aliyah efforts of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Despite the Corona pandemic, the ICEJ has sponsored flights for 1,350 Jewish immigrants to come home to Israel so far in 2020. And Christians around the world are responding to our ‘Rescue250’ challenge to help us maintain the current pace of bringing at least 250 Jews on flights to Israel each month until the Corona threat subsides.

This is a prophetic and humanitarian mission. The flights we have sponsored have brought Jews from the main sources of Aliyah this year – Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Ethiopia. Many of these Jewish families have faced very difficult conditions and were desperate to reach Israel. One Ethiopian family has recently gone through a heart-rending journey on their way to the Jewish homeland.

Kasia Workanech, along with her husband and two small children, were among the 119 olim who arrived from Ethiopia in May on a specially chartered Aliyah flight arranged by the Jewish Agency and sponsored by the ICEJ. The Christian Embassy has been sponsoring the Ethiopian aliyah flights over recent years, bringing home nearly 2,000 members of this ancient Israelite community since the government decided to bring the last remnant in 2015. Some have waited years and even decades for their turn to reach Israel and be reunited with family already here. The Coronavirus crisis has only added to their ordeal, but for Kasia and her family this has been an especially bittersweet time of both great sadness and joy.

The sadness comes from the fact that Kasia’s mother was finally approved to board a plane for Israel last year but fell ill and passed away a few days short of her flight. The joy arises because Kasia has finally been reunited with her five brothers and sisters already living in Israel.

Kasia’s mother was meant to make Aliyah with her four unmarried children in February 2019. At that time, Kasia and her family planned to soon follow her mother to Israel. This would have ended many years of the family being separated from their eldest sister who was already in Israel. But tragedy struck just before their flight last year, as their mother became gravely ill. The Jewish Agency did its best to move up the date of her flight, but regrettably she died just a few days short of takeoff. Her four unmarried children boarded the homecoming flight in clothes of mourning, without their mother.

This left only Kasia in Ethiopia with her husband and two small children. Her relatives in Israel were constantly praying for their arrival. Then came the Coronavirus outbreak, which has hit hard in Ethiopia. Hopes of seeing their sister faded day by day. But the door of Aliyah miraculously opened once more, and in May they got the news that Kasia would be coming home to Israel.

Upon their arrival, Kasia and her family spent two weeks in quarantine in northern Israel, and then were taken south to an absorption center in Beersheva. This also happened to be the facility where her siblings have been staying since they landed last year. As Kasia entered the gates of the absorption center, she was welcomed and embraced with tears of joy by her siblings.

“I truly did not expect that this Aliyah flight could be arranged during Corona. I was so surprised”, said Getanech, her oldest brother. “Once we knew this miracle would happen, we counted each day until Kasia’s arrival.”

The apartment assigned to Kasia and her family was on the same floor as her brothers and sisters, and Getanech said they were cleaning and preparing it every day for their sister’s arrival.

The family’s joyous reunion was still tempered by the absence of their mother, but they were comforted knowing her greatest wish was that all her children would make it to the Promised Land.

“Our mother always said her dream was for us all to be together in Israel. Unfortunately, she did not live to experience this dream with us. But now, thanks to her, we are all here, together”, said Getanech. “I am sure she is looking down at us from heaven, and is so very happy.”

There are more Jewish families like Kasia’s awaiting the chance to be reunited with the Jewish people in their ancient homeland. The Corona crisis has not stopped the Aliyah, but it has made life much for difficult for many, and the answer is helping them reach Israel.

Please join our special ‘Rescue250’ campaign by helping us bring at least 250 more Jews to Israel this month. You can reserve a place on an Aliyah rescue flight for a deserving Jewish person or family in need.

Book a seat today, and follow our progress in this urgent Rescue250 campaign! Go to: on.icej.org/rescue250

  

 

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