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Aid Projects

A Basket of Blessings For Single Moms

The ICEJ Aid team journeyed on the road throughout Israel to deliver food baskets to single parent families. Many were headed by Jewish single mothers who are trapped in unhealthy marriages, and are unable to be set free due to religious laws which only grant men the right to seek a divorce.

With unemployment skyrocketing in Israel due to the Coronavirus, many families have been struggling to make ends meet. And unfortunately, not every shuttered home was safe during the recent lockdown. With domestic violence on the rise, sadly many vulnerable women and children faced abuse. Others were left bereft of emotional or economic support from husbands and fathers in broken families.

One social worker told us about “Batya”, a woman in her care, who had enjoyed a wonderful marriage until her husband began to develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as well as severe phobias and anxieties. As his mental situation deteriorated, he would not allow her to touch the children because they attended a school located next to a cemetery, and he was fearful she would become ‘impure’ through them. Batya was allowed to prepare their lunches each morning, but she was forced to retreat to her room once they arrived home from school. For two years she could not hug her children and sobbed alone in her room.

Finally, Batya gathered the courage to leave this heartbreaking situation and was awarded full custody of the children, but her Orthodox husband refused to give her a divorce. She now suffers from depression and terrible feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

In Israel today, religious courts handle marriage and divorce issues according to Jewish law, which holds that the man must grant a divorce to a woman. This reality leaves many women, known as “agunot”, susceptible to abuse and chained to unloving or unviable marriages. The women cannot remarry or bear more children, even though the men may go on with their lives and start new families. And too often, the men refuse to provide financial assistance for their children. Surveys indicate that 19% of Jewish women in the process of divorce are being denied a “get” (divorce certificate) – that is almost 3,000 women per year in Israel alone.

Many of these women feel alone and worn down by the ordeal and the religious power leveraged against them. It is incredibly sad to hear about a family break-up because of divorce. Nevertheless, it is inspiring to see the courageous way these women have sought help and continue to do their best to protect and provide for their children even without the father’s help.

As we travelled from city to city, and home to home, delivering food baskets, some of the agunot mothers lacked words to express their gratitude and simply beamed a smile. Others embraced us and invited us in for a drink. One mother, Ilanit*, shared that her life has been tough. Currently, she and her 12-year-old son, Daniel*, are both in counseling to work through emotional scars of the past. Nevertheless, both Ilanit and her son have beautiful smiles and remain positive. Our food basket brought a lot of joy.

Daniel straight away undertook to investigate the food basket, and then jumped up and down when he discovered his favorite items like spaghetti, black tea and chocolate. On the spot, they decided spaghetti would be on the menu that very night. As we walked back to the car, Daniel accompanied us and continued to thank us!

Ilanit’s faith and appreciation was also evident. As we spoke together, she shared, “It can only become better! God has a plan and watches over us. My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving for how I am cared for.”

Returning home at the end of the long journey, our hearts were overflowing with gratitude for the generosity of our Christian friends worldwide, who despite their own challenges in recent months, have allowed us to bring encouragement and practical help to Israeli single mothers struggling to feed their children.

Join us in continuing to provide hope to many other families like Ilanit and Daniel!

*Names changed to protect the families.
 

Christian Embassy Marks 30 Years of Aliyah Flights

By: David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Spokesman

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem welcomed a group of 94 new Jewish immigrants to Israel on Tuesday (26 May) on a special chartered plane which marked thirty years of Aliyah flights sponsored by the ICEJ since the first one touched down in Israel in May 1990.

When the Christian Embassy was founded in Jerusalem in 1980, one of its first initiatives was to start advocating for the release of Soviet Jewry. Christians staged rallies in capitals around the world demanding “Let My People Go!” So when the Iron Curtain fell in October 1989 and the door finally opened wide for Jews to leave the Soviet Union, it was only natural for the ICEJ to start helping bring them home to Israel.

Actually some of the ICEJ’s earliest leaders, such as Finnish branch director Dr. Ulla Järvilehto, were already pioneering Christian efforts to as

sist Jews trickling out of the Soviet bloc in the 1970s and 80s through welcome centers in Budapest and Vienna. But once Soviet Communism collapsed, the possibility opened up for bringing masses of Russian-speaking Jews directly by plane to Israel.

So the ICEJ’s German branch approached the Jewish Agency with an offer to help pay for a flight of Soviet Jews and ICEJ-Finland quickly agreed to cover the other half of the costs. Thus on 28 May 1990 – exactly 30 years ago this week – a special ICEJ-funded charter flight carrying several hundred Russian Jews landed at Ben-Gurion Airport. In fact, this was the first Aliyah flight fully sponsored by Christians and thus it stands as a unique milestone for the ICEJ.

An excited ICEJ delegation was waiting on the tarmac to warmly welcome these exiles home, in fulfillment of Biblical prophecies that the Jewish people would one day return to the Land of Israel from the “north”, and that Gentiles would be there to assist them (see e.g., Isaiah 43:6; Isaiah 49:22-23; Isaiah 60:4-16; Jeremiah 31:8)

At the start of this year, plans were underway for the ICEJ to bring a large planeload of Russian Jews to Israel this same week, to mark the 30th anniversary of that first Aliyah flight. But then the Coronavirus pandemic struck and travel bans were imposed around the globe. It looked like Aliyah would come to a halt. Yet to everyone’s surprise, interest in Aliyah has actually increased, and Israeli and Jewish Agency officials have been finding creative ways to keep the door open for Jews to continue coming home at this time.

The flight on Tuesday included Jews from across the former Soviet republics. Many had to first catch connecting flights or travel long distances by vehicle or train to reach the hub airport, and the ICEJ was there to help. Since this involves a permanent move to a new country, the Christian Embassy also paid for extra luggage allowances. And because there are still Corona health rules in place, the ICEJ also is covering their two-week mandatory stay in a quarantine hotel here in Israel.

Many of these Jewish olim (newcomers) have dramatic stories to tell about their life’s journey to Israel. One story begins with two young sisters caught up in a war in Georgia in the early 1990s. Both fled the country, but amid the chaos and haste they got separated, never found each other again, and each wound up thinking the other was dead. Yet last year, the son of one sister decided to launch his own search and through social media found his aunt, alive and well, living in Ariel. The son was on this week’s flight and his mother will soon follow – all to be reunited nearly thirty years later in Israel.

With this week’s flight group, the ICEJ has now sponsored Aliyah flights for 855 Jewish immigrants to reach Israel during the past three months of the Corona crisis. And ever since that first Aliyah flight in May 1990, the Christian Embassy has funded more than 300 flights for Jews coming home to Israel.

Once you add in all the other Jewish immigrants we have helped along the way – whether with transport to airports, special grants for needy families, Hebrew language classes, Aliyah seminars, fairs and youth camps, and so much more – the ICEJ has now assisted nearly 160,000 Jews in making the journey home to Israel.

But there are many more Jewish people waiting their turn to make the move to Israel, and the interest in Aliyah is rising – despite the Corona or in many cases because of it. And the Christian Embassy needs your help in bringing them home.

City of David Part One: Uncovering History

Jerusalem is an ancient city that has been fought over for centuries and has many hidden treasures that are revealing the truth of scripture. In part one of this special series of Encounter Israel, we will explore the City of David with VP & International Spokesman of the ICEJ, David Parsons. He will show us how each archaeological discovery has revealed the historical figures found in the scriptures and how Jewish life shaped Jerusalem throughout the centuries.

In this episode you will also hear from Director of International Affairs for the City of David, Ze'ev Orenstein. He explains how the City of David was first uncovered and how this initial discovery led to other discoveries that are still being excavated today.

Watch and discover more about the City of David!

Welcome to Magdala

Join our ICEJ TV Producer Amanda Gross as she takes you to the city of Magdala right here in the Land of Israel!

Mary Magdalene was from a port city on the Sea of Galilee called Magdala (or Migdal). Just in the last few years, there have been many archaeological discoveries in the city of Magdala that reveal the footsteps of Jesus. 

Watch this video and discover more about the life of Mary Magdalene onsite in Israel at the city of Magdala!

Israel is Under Attack

Over 220 rockets have been fired at Israel in the last couple of days! Israel is under attack and this nation needs us to pray and stand with them in this time of crisis! Watch this video and learn how you can stand with Israel today!

Stand with Israel in Crisis today!

An ICEJ Welcome From Around the World

Help us bring more Jewish families home to Israel

ICEJ was honored to welcome 57 new Ethiopian immigrants to Israel on May 15th, 2019. This arrival was extra special because our ICEJ National Directors from over 40 nations were present with us at the Ben Gurion Airport to witness biblical prophecy right before their eyes!

With your help, the ICEJ has already funded the first 471 Ethiopian Jewish arrivals this year. 

With this said, we also recognize that it is vitally important to not only help these new immigrants arrive to Israel, but also to help them integrate and thrive here in the land. We need your support to help the many new immigrants that are in the process of assimilating into a new country, culture, and way of life! 


Support the extensive ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, connect the church, provide education and promote justice.

Donations allow us to maintain funding for emergency projects, and embark on new initiatives to support Israel in these critical days.

Thank you for your ongoing support of ICEJ Canada!


 

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