Breaking Israel News recently reported on the phenomenon of Chrisitians worldwide who are prepared to shelter Jews in the event of a dangerous uptick in anti-Semitic acts.
As a follow-up, we present an in-depth introduction to a companion effort. In this story, we profile five Christian ministries that support aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) and conclude with an incisive comment from a rabbi whose work has directly benefited from Christian support.
The Cyrus Foundation was established in the US in 2005. Through their Restoration Israel website, they offer encouragement and financial assistance to Jews moving to Israel. The Cyrus Foundation helps subsidize the cost of shipping household goods to Israel, which typically costs between $4,500 and $12,000.
Yitzchak Sasson, the Jewish owner of Aliyah Lift Shipping told Breaking Israel News, “We have been working with the Cyrus Foundation since we started helping olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) at Aliyah Lift Shipping over 10 years ago. They’re great to work with and ask nothing in return from those they give grants to. The Cyrus Foundation assists with shipping costs and pays the grant money directly to the shipping company.”
The Foundation, which serves North, Central and South America, also helps subsidize the cost of connecting flights from the closest airport to the airport from which the aliyah flight will depart.
The actual flight to Israel is covered by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) for those making aliyah, but it is the responsibility of the family to get to the airport from which the flight to Israel is departing. So, for example, a Jewish family with four children residing in Chicago would be required to pay for six domestic tickets from Chicago to their aliyah flight from New York. The Cyrus Foundation helps with those costs.
Bart and Deborah Kellogg, Founders and Directors of the Cyrus Foundation told Breaking Israel News, “We feel that the Bible is very clear in many passages that God is calling those of us in the nations to help with the restoration of Israel at this time in history. The larger focus of that restoration, we believe, is the return of the Jewish people from all the countries where they were dispersed. We are to bless and serve them as they return and are ‘planted’ in their Land.”
I will delight in treating them graciously, and I will plant them in this land faithfully, with all My heart and soul. Jeremiah 32:41
“We are very glad to be able to assist Jewish families and individuals in need to be able to fulfill their dream of making aliyah!” they enthused.
Ebenezer Operation Exodus
Ebenezer Operation Exodus was founded during the first Gulf War in 1991 when founder Gustav Scheller, heard a Divine call: “Now you can begin helping My people to go home.”
Ebenezer Operation Exodus operates in over 50 different countries. In the US, they are known as Operation Exodus USA.
Teams operating in the former Soviet Union, including Russia and Ukraine, help with costs associated with making aliyah. “For instance, we can help pay for passports, or other documents that potential olim need from the archives to prove they have the right to make aliyah.
“We also provide financial assistance for transport costs for potential olim to travel to meet the Jewish consul during their aliyah process,” noted Jeremy Smith, National Coordinator of Ebenezer Operation Exodus Israel. “In other countries, we also provide financial assistance for shipping costs for olim to bring their belongings to Israel,” he added.
“Our motivation [to assist Jews to move to Israel] comes from the Scriptures. We believe that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people through an everlasting covenant and that the restoration of the Jewish people back to the land of Israel is part of God’s divine plans.
“We believe that God would like gentiles like us to help with this,” Smith noted.
Ebenezer Operation Exodus maintains an office in Jerusalem to assist with new immigrants who are struggling financially. Their staff speaks English, Russian, French and Hebrew.
“Last summer, we opened a three-story house in Haifa to assist new immigrants with short term housing,” Smith shared.
Rev. Barry Wagner, Vice President of Ezra International told Breaking Israel News that their work with Jews from the former Soviet Union and South America, “is really three fold: We rescue them from stark poverty and anti-Semitism, we return them to their ‘Promised Land,’ and we restore hope for a better life in Israel.”
Founded in 1995 by Melvin Hoelzle, Wagner shared that, “Ezra International was established as a humanitarian aid organization to serve the poverty stricken Jews of the former Soviet Union with basic daily needs as well as assisting them in preparing their documents for their aliyah.
“Many times we have to reestablish their identity through the archives due to lost, stolen or destroyed documents. This is especially true with Holocaust survivors. This process can take several months or even years! Our staff is determined that not one Jewish person is going to be left behind due to the lack of documents or finances!
“Ezra International pays for all of the expenses pertaining to documents as well as the cost of the visas and the passports. We also pay off any unpaid bills they may owe to the government that they are unable to pay.
“On the day of their departure, Ezra International picks the olim up at their home or apartment along with all of their luggage and we transport them to the international airport for their flight home,” he elaborated.
Since 1995, “we have assisted 77,381 precious Jewish people in their prophetic return to their homeland. At present we are working with an additional 43,440 who wish to repatriate,” Wagner explained.
Wagner elaborated, “We feel very strongly that we have a mandate from the Holy One of Israel… He has called us Gentiles to be the ones to stand with them, to love them unconditionally and to be the instruments in God’s Hands, to help them to be able to live out their God-appointed destinies as free Jews in the land of the Jews!
“As you can probably tell, we are all Christian Zionists without apology. Israel is a covenant land given to the Jewish people by God Himself.”
Addressing himself to the impact of COVID-19 and global anti-Semitism, Wagner confirmed, “Yes, we have seen a great increase in request for assistance by the Jewish people in the 18 countries we are working in due to the virus and particularly anti-Semitism. This is not only true in the former Soviet Union, but in fact it is global.
“Anytime I am speaking in churches, doing television or radio programs, I never fail to share my belief that, ‘The only safe place for Jews is in the land of the Jews.’ This truth and the mandate that God has given us is the driving motivation in everyone that is a part of the worldwide Ezra International family.
“We have been gearing up for many months now to handle the great increase of people wanting to make aliyah after this pandemic is over,” he explained.
Wagner concluded his remarks with a personal blessing (“May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continue to richly bless you, your family and Breaking Israel News with His love, His joy and His shalom.”) followed by a message to Jews around the world.
“May I remind you and all of our precious Jewish brothers and sisters around the world that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are millions of evangelical Christians around the world who love you, who support you and who have a deep abiding love in their hearts for the wonderful land of Israel.
“As a young pastor I made my first trip to Israel in 1984 and I have now returned an additional 49 times and I never tire of going. I always feel like I have come HOME!” he enthused.
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews began under the leadership of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Its first project is known as On Wings of Eagles.
Speaking for IFCJ, Rubi Alfi-Nissan told Breaking Israel News, “The fall of the Soviet Union, and the opening of the border for Jewish aliyah from there, inspired not only the Jewish world, but also the Christians who saw this, just like us, as prophecy being fulfilled.
“Rabbi Eckstein, who founded the Fellowship as a bridge-building organization, seeking to create dialog and cooperation between Jews and Christians who both believe in the Torah and share a deep love of Israel and the Jewish people, turned to the Evangelical public and offered them the opportunity to be a part of this historic moment of the ingathering of the exiles.
“The response was huge, and ever since, the Fellowship is one of the largest organizations supporting aliyah.”
Alfi-Nissan explained that IFCJ has donated nearly $800 million towards aliyah, including a $1 million donation that helped establish Nefesh B’Nefesh, the aliyah portal for Jews from North America.
“Over the years, we have helped bring more than 750,000 Jews to Israel. We now bring approximately 5,600 olim to Israel every year from 30 different countries,” Alfi-Nissan noted.
“We do not operate in English-speaking countries. Most Jews in those countries are better off financially and we focus on helping those who come from a weaker background.
“We focus our efforts on countries in which Jews are in distress due to economic hardship, anti-Semitism and security threats. We provide our olim with a generous financial package, as well a plane ticket and personal guidance throughout this exciting but very challenging process. We treat each oleh (immigrant) as a VIP. As a result, more and more Jews are turning to us to make aliyah,” he elaborated.
Current events have impacted the work of ICFJ. “We see the rise in interest in all areas of the world, whether it’s South America, the former Soviet Union and also in France.
“During the last three months, despite the flight restrictions, The Fellowship has managed to rescue and bring to Israel hundreds of olim from the Ukraine, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Georgia, Belarus and other places.
“Our amazing team of aliyah professionals, and our dedicated Christians donors, have made it all possible,” Alfi-Nissan commented.
Canadian-based Return Ministries began in 2003. Founder Dean Bye explained that Project Return, “seeks to match returning Jewish people with members of the Christian community who are committed to pray for them during transition, encourage them along the way, and to raise some funds to help them with the expense of immigration (e.g. their lift costs or appliance purchases once in Israel). We also have an Aliyah Fund that we can draw from to assist with expenses of new olim.”
A second project , the Aliyah Return Center, is housed on a 15 acre campus along the Jordan River in the lower Galilee. In partnership with JAFI, the campus is being restored in order to assist, “in the absorption of new olim along with many other social programs of JAFI,” Bye shared.
“Return Ministries in Israel oversees the fundraising, restoration and educational aspects of teaching Christians how to be Zionists and be active in their respective nations. Presently Christians from over 50 nations have served, learned and participated in the funding of aliyah programming,” he noted.
Bye emphasized that the motivation of Return Ministries is, “strictly Biblical. We are called by God to carry His children home (Isaiah 49:22), to comfort them (Isaiah 40:1), and to serve them in the land (Isaiah 14:1,2). We do this with unconditional love, making no demands on those we assist.”
According to Bye, Return Ministries, “encourages Jewish leaders in North America, especially rabbis, to declare it is time and to lead the way. Like you, we see the writing on the wall and want to help while making the move can be done without too many restrictions or panic.”
Rabbi Michael Freund, Chairman of Shavei Israel, spoke to Breaking Israel News about the support his organization, devoted to “bringing the lost tribes of Israel and other hidden Jewish communities back to Zion” has received from Christian donors.
“When I first became involved… over 20 years ago, I noticed that many Christians were very passionate and enthusiastic about supporting aliyah. Initially, I could not understand why. But then I came across a verse that opened my eyes and changed my entire perspective.”
Thus said Hashem: I will raise My hand to nations And lift up My ensign to peoples; And they shall bring your sons in their bosoms, And carry your daughters on their backs. Isaiah 49:22
In Isaiah 49:22, the Lord says that the nations of the world will carry our sons and daughters back to the Land of Israel as part of the Ingathering of the Exiles. This verse, and other similar verses, make clear that the nations of the world have an active role to play in the unfolding of the Divine plan and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral home.
“Christians and others involving themselves in aliyah is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Hence, as Jews, we should welcome the growing Christian support for aliyah, which would have been unthinkable just 50 or 100 years ago.
“At Shavei Israel, we have been blessed to garner support from a wide range of Christian individuals and organizations worldwide. [T]he assistance they have provided has enabled us to bring over 4,000 Bnei Menashe, descendants of the tribe of Manasseh, on aliyah from India.
“We are blessed to live in a generation where, rather than oppressing Jews, Christians are taking it upon themselves to assist Jews and help them to go home. This turnabout is a miracle!” he conveyed.