70 Years of Aliyah

editor - 17 December 2018

 The rows in the auditorium built with Jerusalem stone, slowly began filling with guests, their excited faces and hushed voices demonstrating that to them, this was no ordinary event. They took their seats and waited with anticipation for the evening to begin.

All those present knew that the deep meaning of this evening’s celebration, the entire reason for it to take place, with such diverse guests coming together in friendship, could only be truly understood through the eyes of faith. And for those who viewed it that way, it was quite simply a miracle.

The evening was about to celebrate Israel: 70 years of Independence and 70 years of Aliyah. Years in which the small, scattered and weak Jewish people who just three years earlier suffered the Holocaust, the worst human catastrophe that the Jewish people, the world, has ever known, returned to their ancient homeland to be established as a modern state, the state of the Jewish people.

With all the struggles, wars and ongoing security threats, it is innovation, growth and a pioneering spirit that has prevailed in Israel for the past 70 years. Many will agree that the greatest blessing of all is the ingathering of the exiles, the return of over 3 million Jews back home. Jews are speaking over 30 languages and coming from over 100 countries in all four corners of the earth. Coming home to a state that is proudly saying: Never Again! Never will a Jewish person be persecuted, need to seek refuge, or wish to return home and the doors will be closed. The doors will always remain open.

And so, though the auditorium can typically welcome only some 200 guests, this evening it welcomed nearly 400. Who were they?

  • 200 singers and leaders of the magnificent Holland Choir, who travelled from the Netherlands to raise their voices in songs of prayer and praise and to give encouragement. The choir was joined by the inspiring world-class Jewish prayer leader, the Chazan Simon Cohen;
  • 50 leaders of Christians for Israel, a worldwide Christian organisation representing over 100,000 Christians who pray for the peace of Jerusalem and give from their typically modest income to provide the Jewish people with practical and much-needed support;
  • 80 Israeli friends and partners of Christians for Israel, including leaders of various Israeli organisations including The Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod (UIA) who together with Christians for Israel, hosted the event;
  • And most importantly, over 70 new olim, new Israelis. Olim who had arrived in Israel for the most part in recent weeks and even just a few days earlier. The new pioneers, who like Abraham millennia ago, left everything known to them behind to come to this new land. Their Aliyah to Israel is a blessing to them as well as a blessing to Israel. These 70 olim were symbolic of the 70 years of Israel and in fact, represented the nearly 30,000 olim who through the Jewish Agency, found their way home in the past year, coming from nearly 40 countries around the world. The evening was to honour, encourage and bless them.

Many of these olim came home specifically thanks to the direct support of Christians for Israel. Indeed, together, we are bringing the Jewish people back home. And while for some Aliyah is the fulfilment of a dream, for others, it is like waking up from a nightmare. For all, it is starting a new life in Israel.

As we were singing and celebrating, all those present deeply understood that Aliyah doesn’t just happen. It requires Jewish education, encouragement, guidance, preparation and of course a promise that with all the difficulties, life in Israel will be good, and the olim might be assuredly planted in this land.

Christians for Israel are working with us at the Jewish Agency every step of the way! Support, which is given through Keren Hayesod, is directed to many global efforts. In Ukraine this includes operating summer camps, and holding day and weekend Aliyah seminars. Also, with Jewish Agency dedicated emissaries on the ground serving with the Christians for Israel team in Ukraine, we are able to care for those people so desperately in need of safety. Once the olim arrive here in Israel, the Agency provides them with Hebrew education, mentoring, and a warm home for the first months and years of their new lives in Israel.

Very moving were the words of Tatiana Neslevich, a young wife and mother and a new olim from Ukraine who came on the First Home in the Homeland programme and lives in the Hinanit Community in Samaria:

“Just after landing in Ben-Gurion airport our lives changed forever; of course we were afraid of these drastic changes. We went through wonderful and exciting times as well as through tough and tragic moments. But all the time we felt the support and prayers of Christians for Israel.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to all the people who supported us in their deeds and prayers and who have such a big heart for Israel. I truly believe that our decision to make Aliyah will be a blessing for our children and us. Making Aliyah on Israel’s 70 birthday is even more special as our dream is to be part of building Israel’s future in the next 70 years!

Thanks to you, dear friends from Christians for Israel and your support of the Jewish Agency’s First Home in the Homeland programme. This dream can now come true.”

The Jewish Agency awarded Christians for Israel a certificate of honour celebrating the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel and 70 years Aliyah

As Tatiana so beautifully said, the special friendship of Christians and Jews has been a blessing to her. How can this be believed when for nearly 2000 years there was hardly any friendship, just fear, hate and wars? But as people of faith, we know we are living in special times, and it is thanks to organisations and people such as Christians for Israel that this friendship and with it the blessings, can come true.

With all the challenges and difficulties, we are together, praying for the next 70 years, the next 3 million olim we must help and the blessings yet to come. For it is for such a time as this, that we have been waiting for.

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