Bringing God’s People Home
December 9, 2014
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
There are few places in the world that are less hospitable to Jews than the former Soviet Union. There is a long and ugly tradition of anti-Semitism in this part of the world, a tradition deeply ingrained in society and culture. During my many trips to this troubled region, I’ve seen first-hand its effects – Jews afraid to reveal their identity as Jews, afraid to practice their faith, and mired in an unending cycle of poverty and squalor because they are unable to find work to support themselves.
Particularly in Ukraine, the already tenuous situation for the Jewish community has worsened exponentially. During the past year, fighting between Russian separatists and Ukrainian loyalists – fuelled by the Russian government’s incitement and blatant grab for power – has resulted in civil unrest and violence that has spiralled out of control in the eastern part of the country. In the middle of this conflict is the beleaguered Ukrainian Jewish community, struggling to survive in what has become a war zone.
That is why, on December 22, The Fellowship is planning a historic aliyah, flying a planeload of 200 Jews from the war-torn areas of Ukraine to their new home in Israel. Jews from around the world make aliyah for many different reasons – to escape anti-Semitism and crushing poverty, and to realize the promise of living in their biblical homeland. In this case aliyah can truly mean the difference between life and death for a community in peril.
This flight will inaugurate our new aliyah initiative, but certainly will not be the last flight we organize from Ukraine. Far too many Jews living in fear amid the volatile and dangerous situation in Ukraine still long to come to the country where they can live freely as Jews, without fear, and with independence and self-determination. That country, of course, is Israel – and when their plane arrives at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Fellowship staff, along with a host of Israeli dignitaries, will be there to greet them with one simple message: welcome home.
The Bible tells us, “I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 43: 5-6). My friends, with this historic aliyah, I truly believe we are again witnessing the fulfilment of this prophecy. I ask you to pray for the success of our efforts –and, if you feel moved by God to do so, please consider supporting our mission to bring home Ukrainian Jews who remain in peril, and long only to come home.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
President and Founder, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews® of Canada