David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Spokesman

Posted on: 18 May 2020

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is currently helping Israel and the Jewish Agency with an unexpected wave of Aliyah even during the Coronavirus crisis, as the ICEJ has already sponsored flights for 601 Jewish immigrants since February, and will bring another 160 Jews to Israel this week.The newest arrivals include a group of 41 Russian Jews flying in on Tuesday (19 May) from Moscow, with another ICEJ-sponsored flight carrying 119 Ethiopian Jews scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday (21 May).This will raise the total to 761 Jewish immigrants the ICEJ has brought on flights to Israel since Corona travel bans were first imposed worldwide in February. For many of these recent arrivals, the ICEJ also is helping to cover the added costs of their post-flight quarantine, in support of the Jewish Agency.

As global travel has ground to a halt over recent months, many in Israel were expecting a pause in Jewish immigration due to the COVID-19 threat. But the nation is currently experiencing a surprising surge in Aliyah, as many Jewish families worldwide are moving up plans to immigrate to a country they view as safer and better positioned for economic recovery. The present influx of Jewish immigrants is coming from around the world, including Ethiopia and the former Soviet republics, among other regions. With most regular international flights still suspended at this time, Israeli and Jewish Agency officials have been working to arrange emergency charter flights which are bringing back stranded Israeli citizens as well as Jews from abroad who are approved for immigration to Israel.

Many of these recent Jewish arrivals are coming from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, where the local economies are struggling and the Corona threat is just peaking. Even travel within these countries is difficult and in some areas not even allowed. Yet we are hearing stories of Jewish families making incredible efforts to board flights for Israel, with some even walking great distances with children in tow. In other instances, pregnant mothers nearing term were suddenly determined to reach Israel in time to give birth in the Jewish homeland. And Israeli and Jewish Agency officials are exploring all avenues to safely funnel these people through airports even when most people are not allowed to fly.

On Tuesday, a flight will arrive from Russia with 41 Jewish immigrants sponsored by the ICEJ. One Jewish couple on board has sped up their move here to be with their daughter, an Israeli mother of two who has been diagnosed with advanced brain cancer and will undergo emergency surgery in coming days. Meantime, some 7,000 Ethiopian Jews have been living for years in difficult conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, and concern is growing that they will be hit hard by the Coronavirus as it spreads through Africa. Thus, those Ethiopian Jews previously approved for Aliyah are being brought now, including Thursday’s flight of 119 olim, while the new Israeli government will have to decide on possible emergency measures to process and safeguard the rest. We expect swift government action to start bringing more to Israel in coming weeks. Ever since the Ethiopian Aliyah resumed in 2015, the ICEJ has been the exclusive sponsor of flights for the historic return of this ancient Israelite community, and we need your help to sponsor these upcoming flights. Meantime, the Jewish Agency has also approached the ICEJ with a request to help cover the flight costs for another 150 Russian Jews they hope to bring to Israel by early June.

Assisting Israel with Aliyah is always exciting and prophetic. But how much more of a privilege and joy it is for the Christian Embassy and our supporters to play a central role in this extraordinary wave of Aliyah, which is taking place at a time when a global pandemic has brought the world to a standstill, but it could not stop the Jews from coming home to Israel.