On Monday, 237 new immigrants arrived in Israel, some fleeing war-torn countries, thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ). This is part of a busy week for the Fellowship in which they will welcome 340 olim (new immigrants) who will arrive on 17 different flights from eight countries, including Brazil, Colombia, France, Uzbekistan, and Argentina. The majority (219) of the new arrivals are leaving the Ukraine, many of them fleeing the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Many others are fleeing economic distress.
The IFCJ is a shining example of how evangelical Christians are playing an increasingly important role in the prophetic process of the ingathering of the exiles. In addition to performing the vital mission of helping immigrants come to the Holy Land, the Fellowship has promoted better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, while building broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel.
“Thirty-five years ago, when my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founded the Fellowship, there wasn’t even a known concept of Jewish-Christian relationships or Christians standing with Israel,” Yael Eckstein,Senior Vice President of the IFCJ, said to Breaking Israel News. “There certainly was not an outlet for Christians to express their love for Israel. We now find ourselves in a reality in which Christians and evangelicals are synonymous with being pro-Israel. They are now recognized as Israel’s strongest supporters. This relationship is mutual, cherished by both sides. The Christians show this love in so many ways, some practical and some prophetic.”
Since being founded, the Fellowship has worked in conjunction with the Jewish Agency and Nefesh b’Nefesh, investing more than $200 million to bring hundreds of thousands of Jews to Israel. In 2014, the Fellowship began working independently towards this goal and has brought nearly 13,000 more immigrants to Israel from 26 countries. This mission is taking on increased urgency as Jews are facing rising anti-Semitism, threatened by terrorism or suffering economic crises.
“The flights of olim that landed this week and especially those arriving this morning from the Ukraine represent a special hope, since they include 69 children under the age of 10 – literally the future of the Jewish state,” said Eckstein. “I am proud and excited to see these olim starting a new chapter in their lives here in their Jewish homeland, and I wish them much success.”
The Fellowship does not just bring the Jews to Israel but also works to ensure all the immigrants it brings enjoy a successful absorption into Israeli life. Once the olim arrive in Israel, IFCJ provides grants for appliances, furniture, housing and employment assistance.
“We do everything we can to ensure that all of our olim will begin successful new lives in Israel,” Eckstein explained.
This week’s new arrivals will start their new lives in 35 cities across Israel. The youngest newcomer who landed this morning, is a one-year-old baby girl, and the oldest is an 82-year-old woman, both from the Ukraine. In addition, 11 dogs and 6 cats, will also begin their new lives in Israel. Nearly a third of this week’s new immigrants – 101 people – are children under the age of 18.
Mykhailo Semenenko, 40, came from the Ukraine on Sunday morning with his wife and daughter. “I worked in the construction sector and there are almost no job offers in the field,” he said. “My wife is a nurse and luckily she managed to continue working steadily recently, but her salary has been cut in half since the outbreak of the crisis in the east.”
Yulia Foshchii, 31, also landed on Sunday with her husband and two children. Yulia and her family have also experienced difficult economic problems in the Ukraine. “Prices have all risen significantly; even basic products have gone up a lot. Our day-to-day life was a constant struggle.”