November 10, 2016 – Margarita B from Kazan
Margarita understands that making Aliyah for her is moving to the Promised Land. Her hope is that she will get well there. She explains: “I have lost my eyesight. Glasses do not help. I want to get treatment for my eyes. It’s slippery on the roads here in Russia in winter. My legs aren’t good and I’m scared of falling down on the street. There’s no snow or ice in Israel.”
Ezra helped Margarita with her costs in going to the Consul for her visa. When she was leaving they also took her to the train station and helped her – with all her luggage – board the train. Margarita said: “Thank you so much for your help. Thank you too that you helped me to my seat in the train and carried my luggage for me. Thank you for the respect which you have shown me!”
October 28, 2016 – Stella S from Odessa
A young man approached us at the Jewish Agency concerning what to do before leaving for Israel. He asked us to help with taking his grandmother to the airport. She had been bedridden for three years. At Ezra International we are used to helping disabled people but in this case his grandmothers weight made the task difficult. It was impossible to put her into an ordinary wheelchair and we couldn’t carry her on normal ambulance equipment as the aisles were too narrow. We had to turn to private medical care for help. This help is expensive – 70 cents a minute. We worked out that we could afford to pay for help for 1.5-2 hours. The ambulance arrived at the right time. They checked her blood pressure and assessed the situation. Stella said that she lies in bed because she fell down a few times several years ago. “Her doctors advised her to stay in bed!” As time has passed her muscles became very weak and she stopped getting up altogether.
We put Stella on a chair and tied belts around her. Four healthy men carried her downstairs and put her into the ambulance. We arrived on time at the airport but again the medical assistance there didn’t have a suitable chair for her. They only had one small wheelchair for the whole airport and Stella wouldn’t fit into it. We had to wait for registration and use the chair from the private ambulance to take Stella directly to the plane. Instead of the two hours we’d planned to use the private help we had to pay for 3.5! The airport staff didn’t do anything to help us and the chair wasn’t very comfortable for Stella.
We were with her all the time trying to chat to her and encourage her. Stella told us some of her story. She told how her family of 13 lived in a one room apartment given by the government. Later on when her brothers and sisters were getting married there were 23 people around the table even without guests. She told us how she met and married a handsome, young officer – Mark – and they moved to Odessa. Time passed as we listened to Stella’s life story. Her son died when he was 12 years old and her daughter died at 47, leaving grandson Leonid who was taking her to Israel. Stella’s husband that she loved very much died two months ago. When Mark was in hospital he asked Leonid to take his grandmother to Israel when he died. Mark knew that his life was coming to an end. He took care of his wife for many years. Although he was working till the last day, he cooked and cleaned the house and took care of his wife. He never complained and did everything with a lot of love. For Stella there are now only memories and they’re all connected with the city she was leaving. Stella was crying maybe because of the pain of sitting for so long in the chair but also maybe because of bringing up memories from the past. We tried to encourage her.
Leonid had made earlier arrangements with Israel and asked for Stella to be taken to a private home for the elderly in Jerusalem. Leonid is married with a child. He went to study in Yeshiva in Israel and stayed on. He and his wife are both working and it would be difficult for them to care for his grandmother. Leonid came to Odessa a few times to get the documents and visa ready and also to bury his grandfather. He is a good and compassionate grandson and I’m sure he will visit Stella often.
October 7, 2016 – Aleksandr and Nina N from Omsk
Aleksandr’s sister has lived in Israel since 1998 and has continually called him to come to Israel and finally Aleksandr and his wife Nina decided to do it!! On one hand the couple sees the move as a step to a new life. On the other they realise it’s not easy leaving the way of life they are used to in Omsk – the surroundings, their friends, their daughter and grandchildren.
The couple plan to stay with Aleksandr’s sister initially and they need to take care of some health issues. Aleksandr has problems with his eyes.
Ezra helped with covering the costs connected with the visits to the consul and the team took the family with their luggage to the airport. Aleksandr and Nina were very thankful for Ezra’s help. It was very essential for them and an unexpected encouragement.
September 27, 2016 – Viktoriya and Ivan Sh from Vorzel, Ukraine
Viktoria and Ivan are making Aliyah with their two children – daughter Darya and son Ivan. Ivan tells their story:
We are going to Ashkelon. We have many friends there and they asked us to live close to them. They put a dot on of our question of aliyah telling us that it will be better for our children there. I am a computer programmer and I want to move to the Promised Land and to have a fulfilled life. I analysed the whole question of moving for some time, but taking into consideration what is going on in the Ukraine, the complete fall in all of the areas: medical care, economical situation, the answer was easy. I read a lot with my wife concerning Israel, we watched documentaries, and we were stunned by how this little country which lacks so many helpful resources, is in the 10th most developed countries in the world.
One more thing which is stunning about the Jewish nation is that it is such a united nation, and they do everything as cohesively as possible to develop their own country, and also encourage their communities which are still all over the world. The decision concerning aliyah came within a few days, and from that time there was not any minute when we felt regret about it.
We want so much to give a good education to our children, so they could be proud that they are Jewish. To be a Jew is not very fashionable, but it is prestigious. I want to confirm my diploma, do the courses to make my qualifications higher, and will be like here a computer programmer. There is a big demand for it in Israel. Our friends chose an apartment for us, luxurious according to our standards. We are not in Israel yet, but we have already fallen in love with the country!
Thank you very much that you encouraged us emotionally, thank you for all the consultations you have given us, your financial help concerning our passports -they are very expensive and also for giving us transportation with our suitcases to the airport. It was very pleasant that you took such a good care of us.
September 14, 2016 – Mark and Irina G from Samara
The main reason that Mark and Irina are making Aliyah is that many members of their family already live in Israel. Also they like the country and the approach to people in Israel. On the downside it’s not easy for them to leave as they are used to life in Russia and Irina’s family is staying in Russia.
The couple want to find work in Israel and to learn the language.
Ezra helped Mark and Irina with transport costs to Moscow to see the Consul and also with the transportation of their luggage. The couple were very grateful.
August 15, 2016 – Daria and Dmitri from Ulan Ude, Siberia
Making Aliyah for this young family gives an opportunity for better living conditions but also to be reunited with family already living in Israel. Daria says: “When we visited Israel we fell in love with this country and straight away wanted to live there! Many of our family members already have Israeli citizenship.”
She continues: “Thank you very much to your Foundation that you helped us 100% in getting ready for Aliyah – starting with the decision about leaving to our departure. You gave us a lot of good advice, you helped us with our visit to the Consul and gave us the possibility of taking extra luggage. We would like to say a big thank you to your organisation for your great work! You have been very pleasant to us and we are glad that you showed such good care for our family in our preparations for departure.”
July 15, 2016 – Petro and Isabella from Sevastopol, Crimea
We made plans to make Aliyah a long time ago. We thought about it, visited Israel and liked it there very much but we thought that we would work here for a little bit more and when the children grow up we will make the move! Moving to Israel is a very important step for us. It became a reality for us two years ago – we decided to make Aliyah after Russia annexed Crimea. In one moment we understand that the time had come for us to go to Israel. This happened on the level of our unconsciousness. We started to see what was happening and where it would lead to. We also understood that at any given moment the possibility to go to Israel could stop. We felt the necessity to move because of our Jewish nationality and the fact that the Jews are being blamed for everything. This is the feeling which is with us all the time and we know that only in Israel will we be able to be ourselves and feel at home. Our move is also very much connected with our children and grandchildren.
We made our decision about Aliyah two years ago but the process takes time and preparation. First of all we understand that we’re not alone but have got a family – this means our children needed to be convinced about the importance of Aliyah. Secondly it meant getting our documents ready and finally we had to stop the activities we’d been involved in for many years.
We dream that we will connect quickly to the Israeli nation. For many years we’ve been interested in Israel – we love the country and we would like to bring some sort of benefit to the country. We also want to gather with all our family there. Every Shabbat we gather here around a large family table, nine people in all with our children and grandchildren together. We have a very strong relationship with each other. We gather all together and my wife prepares something tasty. We spend time with each other, share our thoughts and troubles. We say many good words to each other. We play games with our grandchildren and they love it and it warms our hearts! A family has value and we are glad that we are all alive. This is how we want to gather and spend Shabbat also in Israel. We hope that our children and grandchildren will be happy there.
During our whole live we experienced many acts of anti-semitism and to tell the truth it’s not pleasant to talk about it. My wife’s grandmother was shot close to Feodosia (Crimea). When you asked me to describe an anti-semitic experience from my life I realised that this is a very complex and painful question for me because this means that I need to tell you more about my life. First of all what came to mind was an incident which took place in 1967. At that time I was serving in the army and I had a very good friend. On the day when the six day war started between Israel and Egypt we got in full readiness for war. There was a lot of stress and fear. At that time my close friend, someone I really respected and who had respected me, started to say to me full of hatred “because of people like you (Jews) we need to come out from our time of peace, seeing how your people have attacked our friends the Egyptians and now our people are dying there.” I never thought I would hear this from him. This one incident showed what was deep in his heart, what he had been fed with his mother’s milk – total hatred towards the Jews. It shook me completely. There were many similar incidents. I even went to boxer training to be able to keep my dignity. Later I understood that there is no point in fighting. You can’t change it with the fists or with a convincing word. As the years pass you get used to it and on one hand it makes you stronger. But still it was unbearable at times. I know that I would not like my grandchildren to face similar things. I need to say that not long ago I heard a conversation between my 12 year old grandson and his 6 year old brother explaining that he shouldn’t tell anyone that he is a Jew. When I heard this I asked him: “Why does your brother need to keep quiet about the fact that he is a Jew?” He answered: “Because they will tease and mock him.” It seems that my older grandson already suffers mocking because of his Jewish nationality. Looking at my grandchildren I think there is never going to be an end to it. This is why we understand that the best way to fight anti-semitism is to move to Israel.
The most difficult thing for us is to part with our children and grandchildren. We know that in a few months our daughter will be following in our footsteps. We are very worried for my son and his family. He is contracted as a war medical doctor and his contract will end in two years’ time. He is not against moving to Israel but he is not ready yet to break his contract. Another painful thing is to say goodbye to our friends. We leave behind many very close friends. All of them understand the reason we are moving. Many even say: “What are you doing staying here? If we had such a possibility we would have left a long time ago!”
We feel great appreciation and thankfulness, and we are so touched by what you do and so glad to get to know a little bit about your Foundation. To act in this way you need to have big moral and internal strength, great skills and concentration to organize people for such kind of work. Many people need to be an inspiration for what to do and how to think. This is a very complicated work and when it succeeds brings much satisfaction and gratitude. As they say: God gives everyone according to his effort. And for sure He will give to such people who stand at the resources of this organisation, as well as to those who work in this organisation, and at all times. Nothing passes His attention.
June 25, 2016 – Zachar and Lubov M from Krasnodar region in Russia
Zakhar and Lubov were making Aliyah with their Aunt Nina. After one of the couple’s daughters made Aliyah they started immediately to think of making Aliyah themselves. The couple has another daughter who is staying in Russia for now but they hope that she will also move and live with them in the future so that they can be reunited as a family. Zakhar and Lubov would also like to help care for their grandchildren and be a support to them.
Zakhar says: “For us it is important to be together with the rest of the family. The land is also very important – this is our historical homeland. A big thank you to Ezra. Our hearts are touched because we didn’t know there was such an organisation.”
June 11, 2016 – Rachel R from Ufa, Russia
Rachel, a widow, is making Aliyah with her son, Igor. “This is a call from my heart”, she says. “Aliyah is like going back to the beginnings of my ancestors. I am starting to live from the beginning again.” Although Rachel and her son Igor are very stressed about making Aliyah, they have tears in their eyes because of the joy of going to Israel!
Ezra helped this family with getting their international passports. For Rachel it’s difficult to say goodbye to her other son but also to the nature and the snow! She says: “I feel enormous gratitude and appreciation and I bow down before people who serve in this way.”
May 25, 2016 – Elena and Dimitri M from Ufa
Elena and Dimitri made Aliyah together with their son, Alexei, and daughter, Maria. They are following in the footsteps of Elena’s parents who made their Aliyah one month ago. For Elena, making Aliyah means bringing her family together. Sadly the downside of that is that they have to leave Dimitri’s parents behind in Russia – they are not Jewish.
Ezra helped the family with getting their international passports. Elena says: “Thank you very much for your hard work! It is invaluable!”
May 11, 2016 – Nataliya and Vladimir G from Krapotkino, Rostov region
Nataliya and Vladimir are making Aliyah with their son, also called Vladimir. Their main reason for making Aliyah is to do with their son’s health and also the unstable economic situation in Russia. Vladimir Jr was born with some medical conditions and qualifies for special medical help. He also needs to attend a kindergarten for children with such needs. The couple have great hope that their child might become healthy living in their historical homeland! Their other dreams are to have many more children and own their own house by the seaside!
Leaving has its sad things too – the family are leaving behind parents, cousins and friends. They were very grateful to Ezra for the help given them.
April 29, 2016 – Alexander and Olga C from Ekaterinburg
Alexander says that, as a family, they were thinking about Aliyah for a long time. Suddenly one morning came the feeling – it’s time!! Making Aliyah for Alexander means the possibility of being reunited with other members of the family in their native land.
“I want to learn the language, settle in well and I have a dream of giving a good education to my children in Israel,” says Alexander. The couple are making Aliyah with sons Sergei and Yuri and daughter Tatyana. Ezra helped with the costs for the family’s journey to the Consul in Moscow. They were deeply grateful and appreciative.
April 18, 2016 – Vadim and Marina from Omsk
Vadim’s parents have lived in Israel since 1990 and they have called Vadim many times over the years and encouraged him to make Aliyah. Vadim and his wife Marina only took the decision to leave very recently. Vadim’s son is 30 years old but he is not ready yet to follow his parents. Vadim has visited his own parents in Israel every year. He likes Israel very much – the country, the climate, the sea. He has wanted to move there for a long time but Marina didn’t agree (she is not Jewish). Now, though, they are both experiencing health problems and so they finally agreed to make their Aliyah.
Vadim is a musician as is his Mum and his sister. As time went on though he and his wife got involved in business. It’s hard for them to imagine their life and future in Israel. Initially they will live with Vadim’s parents while they go through Ulpan and then see what will happen.
Although the couple didn’t meet with open acts of anti-semitism they always felt a certain arrogance and disregard towards them even from their (non Jewish) friends. Vadim’s grandfather was ‘infected with the idea of communism’. He was the Director of a sanatorium in Feodosia (Crimea) and took an active part in the resettlement of the Jews there. He was taken to a work camp. After 5 years of being in the camp nobody heard from him and nobody knows what happened to him. He was presumed dead.
Vadim doesn’t feel there is anything for him still in Russia. Marina will continue her business in Omsk – they can do a lot by internet. He will see his son often. He is also very happy that he can spend more time with his parents.
Ezra helped the couple with their journey to the Consul for visas.
March 24, 2016 – Latin America
Reflections from the South: Ezra’s Work in Latin America – By Craig Shrum
Travel is part and parcel to the work I do with Ezra International, coordinating our teams in Latin America. On long plane rides to Buenos Aires or Sao Paulo, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on our efforts there.
Although we’ve helped Jewish families return to Israel from Argentina since 2002, most of our work in Latin America now really represents a new phase for the ministry in this region. In both Brazil and Argentina, Ezra now has teams of local believers, excited to learn how they can help with aliyah from their countries. Our representatives in both countries have worked with us since October—so they are learning a lot!
I’ve learned a lot, too. I’ve realized, especially during these last six months, how important these Ezra team members are. When the Lord calls to the Gentiles from the nations to help with the Return (Isaiah 49:22), He is actually calling to the nations. I can share about Ezra with believers in Argentina or Brazil, but it is up to believers from Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to answer that call. And Edeval and Eg-lom and Marcelo and other volunteers and pastors there have done just that!
These representatives for Ezra Argentina and Ezra Brazil can serve both in their local Jewish communities and also in the churches in their countries. In Buenos Aires, Marcelo recently organized a Friday-night conference for local churches to hear a guest speaker from Israel. Joao, a cultural representative from the Jewish Agency, presented a history of the Promised Land and how important Israel is to the Jewish people today. We’re excited for our next event in Argentina: a Passover Seder service for the church!
March 10, 2016 – Hungary – The Blind and the Lame
The prophet Jeremiah talks in chapter 31 verse 8 of the God bringing the Jewish people from the land of the north and gathering them from the ends of the earth and that among them will be the blind and the lame.
In early March our team in Hungary was able to help one young blind man make his Aliyah from that country. Gergo is blind and was accompanied to Israel by his mother, Eva. His parents, brother and sister have already made Aliyah some time ago.
Gergo has several reasons for making Aliyah – one reason is because of the financial difficulties in Hungary; the second is to start a new life for himself in a new land and with new friends. He believes that the political climate in Hungary is very closed now and that the far right party, Jobbik, is giving Hungarian politics a bad name.
Gergo was very thankful for the help he received from Ezra.
Not long after they arrived we received this e-mail from his Mum.
We have arrived in Eilat. Gergo is now starting a new chapter in his life. He again asked me to thank you for helping him.
Regards, Eva and Gergo.”
February 20, 2016 – Rostov-on-Don Russia
Aleksandr and Olga made Aliyah from Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia in December 2015. Their main motivation was to reunite with family there. Their daughter made Aliyah on the NAALE education program. Her parents saw good changes in her life and that inspired them to take the next step and make their own Aliyah. Aleksandr says: “We see a better future for our children in Israel – they can get a better education there.”
The couple were very grateful for Ezra’s financial help and their understanding.
Ezra has only recently opened this base in Rostov-on-Don and Aleksandr and Olga were the 7th family helped by our team in that city.
February 7, 2016 – Pervouralsk Russia
Denis and Irina made Aliyah towards the end of last year along with their small daughter, Nika. Their main reason for making Aliyah was to reunite with other family members. Denis’ aunt was the first to make Aliyah – to get medical help – and now she needs the help of her family.
Their hopes once in Israel? Denis hopes to find a job in his profession as a system administrator and to get an apartment. Denis doesn’t see any real difficulty in leaving Russia but is finding it difficult to imagine living without snow in the winter!
Ezra helped the family by paying for their international passports. The family was very thankful and wished Ezra all the best in new beginnings and in having a vision beyond the horizons!!
January 26, 2016 – Among Them the Lame
Among Them the Lame: Enya and Vika’s Story
“…and I will gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame…” (Jeremiah 31:8)
“In that day” says the Lord, ‘I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast and those whom I have afflicted; I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever.” Micah 4:6-7)
Enya and her daughter Vika’s decision to make Aliyah was mainly due to health reasons. They have no remaining relatives in Kazan and they needed a lot of help. In the summer of 2010 Russia experienced a heat wave that lasted 50 days. The forest burned around Kazan and the sky was constantly covered with smog. Many people died and Vika suffered a stroke leaving her paralyzed.
Enya is 90 years old and cannot walk due to a hip fracture. Their decision to make Aliyah was mainly due to health reasons. Fortunately, Vika’s sister Bronislava made Aliyah 20 years ago and she returned to Kazan to take her mother and sister back to Israel with her.
Ezra International volunteers came to this family’s aid in many ways. They helped them all through the process and covered all of their transportation costs. Then they even drove them to the airport on the day of there departure.
A short time later Ezra received a phone call from the Jewish Agency coordinator saying that Bronislava sent a letter in Hebrew expressing gratitude to the JA and to Ezra international for all of their help. Of course we could not have helped without the faithfulness of Ezra International donors. Thanks to them, we can make a difference.
November 24, 2015 – South America
The Lord’s Faithfulness: Aliyah from Latin America
Celebrating Shabbat with the new Ezra Brazil team in Sao Paulo. Planning aliyah projects with the Jewish Agency in Buenos Aires. Seeing the God of Israel open doors for Ezra International’s work in Latin America.
Again and again, I thanked the Lord for His hand, His plans, and His work during my recent trip to Argentina and Brazil. The return to Israel from these countries—and from other nations in Latin America—completely depends on Him.
A week later, in Sao Paulo, we had the same discussion with our team leader Edeval and our aliyah representative, Eg-lom.
In both countries, we could see the Lord at work. We met with Jewish Agency staff to plan our strategy for aliyah, and we could see the start of a strong relationship there.
In Brazil, our team and their families gathered together for a special evening as Shabbat started. We could sense the Lord’s calling on us, on our workers in Latin America, to be His instruments as He builds on His work through Ezra in Ukraine, Russia, and the former USSR.
Eg-lom and I met with a group of 10 volunteers at a local Baptist church. These faithful believers are ready to help Jewish families as they leave Brazil—offering rides to the airport, help with luggage, and apartment clean-up.
The same night, Edeval attended Ezra Brazil’s second prayer meeting in Sao Paulo organized by our prayer coordinator, Simone. Brazilian voices are calling out to the God of Israel—asking Him to bring His children home to Israel!
Marcelo also has started a ministry of intercession for aliyah in Buenos Aires. We pray the Father’s continued direction and blessing on both these ministries, as prayer is so key to the work of aliyah!
As Ezra Latin America joins our teams in Russia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, and other countries around the world, please lift up Marcelo, Edeval, Eg-lom, and our partners in Argentina and Brazil. Please pray with us for an increased aliyah from Latin America. And please ask the Lord to provide the financial resources that we need to help Jewish families from the South to return home—to the Promised Land!
October 7, 2015 – The History of The Jewish Ingathering
Aliyah in History
After their liberation from Egypt, and before the first of the children of Israel had set foot in the land of Israel, God warned His people through Moses that they would one day be scattered among the nations. But because He is true to His word, He also made this promise; “If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:4-6)
1. 586 BCE Exile into the Babylonian Captivity
2. 70 AD, 135 Roman Exile. Yet there always remained a remnant Jewish presence in “The Land.”
Time line of The Final Return – 1882-1903 Immigrants from Russia due to persecution (approx. 35,000).
- 1882 Yemenite Jews settle near Jerusalem.
- 1904-1914 Due to pogroms (approx. 70,000 among them David Ben-Gurion).
1924-1929 (approx. 82,000 88% from Poland, Hungary 22% from Yemen, Iraq).
1929-1939 With the rise of Nazism in Germany, a new wave of 250,000 immigrants arrives, the majority arriving between 1933 and 1936. (doctors, lawyers, professors)
Arab riots against the Jews in 1929. More violence followed in the Great Uprising of 1936-1939. Britain issued the White Paper of 1939, which severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 people for 5 year Despite British efforts to stop it, 110,000 Jews made aliyah. In 1945 reports of the Shoah caused many Jews in the region to turn against the British and illegal immigration dramatically increased.
Over half a million Jews immigrated. Often termed kibbutz galuyot – literally the ingathering of exiles. (Deut. 30:4 6908 root of kibbutz).
In 1948 Israel reborn and David Ben-Gurion called on Jewish communities worldwide to return and rebuild the land.
Isaiah 66:7-9 Born in a day!
- Operation Magic Carpet - In 1949 the Imam of Yemen agreed to let 45,000 of the 46,000 Jews leave.
- Operation Ezra and Nehemiah - In 1951 114,000 Jews came from Iraq (via Cyprus and Iran).
- Jews were also expelled from Egypt in this period.
- Operation Yachin - Secret immigration carried out by the Mossad of 80,000 Moroccan Jews by ship and plane between November 1961 and Spring 1964.
- Over 50,000 Iranian Jews left Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979 – 30,000 to Israel.
- Operation Moses - In November 1985 the massive airlift known as Operation Moses began to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, ending in January 1986. Some 6,500 to 8,000 were flown from Sudan to Israel.
- Operation Solomon - In 1991 Operation Solomon was launched to bring Jews back from Ethiopia. In one day – 24 May 1991 – 34 aircraft landed in Addis Ababa and brought over 14,000 Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.
- 1989 - Fall of the Soviet Union.
- Since 1997 Ezra International has moved over 50,000 poorest of the poor Jewish people make aliyah, with another 42,612 currently being helped.
The ingathering of the Jewish people back to the land of Israel is quite miraculous and the greatest on-going evidence of a living and faithful God.
September 17, 2015 – Germany Prayer Focus
In Jeremiah 31:10 we – the nations – are encouraged to proclaim that He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. Pray that the Lord will gather His scattered ones from Germany and once in the Land will watch over them as a shepherd watches over His flock.
- Wisdom, timing and the right team of ‘fishers’ in Germany to reach the Russian speaking Jewish population.
- Wisdom in the changes to our Statutes required in Germany in order to practically help the Jewish people in Germany (and not simply the countries mentioned).
- We also have a change in leadership of Alijah Hilfe – pray for this changeover that all would go well and that the related bureaucracy can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
- More opportunities to share in the churches in Germany.
- Life is reasonably good in Germany for the Russian speaking Jews who moved there and many are reluctant to make a second international move. Pray that God would work in their hearts and draw them to Israel.
September 10, 2015 – Germany Jewish History
Ezra in Germany
Ezra has a sister organisation in Germany called Alijah Hilfe (Aliyah Help). Up until recently the focus has been a fund raising and educational role. Alijah Hilfe has particularly raised funds for Ezra’s work in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. However, in more recent days we have been building up a team of Russian speaking volunteers to ‘reach’ the largely Russian speaking Jewish community in Germany to be prepared for the time when more of the Jews in Germany will return to Israel. This is a work in process.
Jewish History in Germany
When we think of Germany in Jewish terms we tend to think immediately of the Holocaust. However, Germany had a long history of Jewish life which – thankfully – the Holocaust was not able to extinguish. Today, Germany is home to the 8th largest Jewish community in the world, with over 110 synagogues.
There is evidence of Jewish presence in the area now known as Germany from the 4th century. In those early days the Jewish population lived in harmony with their Christian neighbours and there was no serious discrimination. One factor that endeared the Jews to the rest of society was their economic success – they gained a special reputation as merchants. This emerging Jewish merchant class created an international network which traversed the Ashkenazi world. This ‘Golden Age’ was interrupted occasionally by anti-semitism. However the Golden Age ended for the Jews of Western Europe on 26 November 1095 when Pope Urban II made a public appeal to the Christians of Europe to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslim Turks. This appeal marked the inception of the First Crusade. With Christians united in this cause, the Jews were now seen as outsiders. Crusaders massacred whole Jewish communities en route to the Holy Land and several communities in Germany were devastated. In Mainz, for example, 1100 Jews were killed in one day in 1096. The attacks continued during the next seven crusades. These events changed Jewish life – they could no longer hold public office or have the same interaction with their Christian neighbours.
By the 1800’s the Jews were by and large an urban, professional class. Many of them took part in the German revolution of 1848 and in the resulting Frankfurt parliament after which Jews were recognised as full citizens regardless of their religious leanings. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries anti-semitism became more visible but most Jews dismissed it as a passing phase. However, anti-semitism became more pronounced following World War I but the legal and social position of the Jews did not change until Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. By this time too many Jews were trying as hard as they could to assimilate. Some Jews also immigrated in this period mainly to America or to Palestine. The majority remained in Germany with disastrous consequences.
Space doesn’t allow us to go into all the events of the Holocaust. The Nuremberg Laws were adopted in 1935 which officially defined Judaism in terms of race and withdrew the citizenship of all Jews. On November 9, 1938 Kristallnacht happened – Jewish businesses and synagogues were razed and many Jews were hurt and killed in the rioting. In March 1941 Hitler implemented the ‘Final Solution’ – Jews were forced to identify themselves by wearing a yellow star and were transported en masse to camps throughout Europe, the largest being Auschwitz in Poland. On May 19, 1943 Germany was declared ‘Free of Jews’ although it is believed that some 19,000 Jews remained in Germany underground.
After the war some survivors did return to Germany and joined those who had been in hiding. The total number barely reached 5% of the Jewish population before the war. In the 1950’s many made Aliyah, decreasing the number even further.
In the late 1980’s through to 2004 saw a large number of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Almost 250,000 applied to come and around 190,000 were allowed in. Germany actually paid the immigrants from the former Soviet Union a subsidy to come and wanted to rebuild the Jewish community to the numbers prior to the war. This caused some tension with Israel as the numbers leaving for Germany were as high as those making Aliyah. Germany then tightened the legislation for those coming.
Currently Berlin houses the largest concentration of Jews in Germany with over 50,000. Germany and Israel have good relationships currently with Germany being Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe.
August 26, 2015 – Hungary Olim Focus
Laszlo has always been aware that Israel is his homeland. He sees the current political situation in Hungary as a warning to the Jewish people to leave there. Laszlo believes that the far-right party Jobbik are very anti-semitic and a danger to Hungarian Jews.
Alongside that Laszlo, a divorced man of 44 with 3 children, has had a difficult time recently. Just over a year ago he lost his job in security and has been struggling ever since. He and his children were all living in a very small flat in Budapest as they couldn’t afford a bigger place. Laszlo hopes to make a fresh start in Israel and to be able to provide for his children by sending funds for them from Israel. He will live in Eilat and work in a hotel there.
Laszlo made his Aliyah at the end of July 2015. Ezra helped by paying for his passport and some other costs relating to his documents. He was very grateful for that help.
August 6, 2015 – Hungary Prayer Focus
The first Jewish people in what is Hungary today were inhabitants of the Roman province of Pannonia and settled there in the 2nd century CE. Roman legions were sent from this area to beat the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 CE. The returning victorious troops brought Jewish slaves back with them.
In 1251 King Bela IV published a Jewish charter, later confirmed by all medieval kings of Hungary, which, in practice put all Jews under royal protection.
After the Ottoman Empire annexed Hungary, Jews faced different fates in different parts of the now divided country. Under Turkish occupation life was peaceful as long as taxes were paid. When the Ottoman Turks were expelled many Jews moved out of the country or became victims of slaughter. Thus Jews all but disappeared from Hungary towards the end of the 17th century.
German speaking, Ashkenazi Jews began to arrive in Hungary in the 18th century mainly coming from Czech and German areas. In 1769 the Jewish population was around 20,000 and had increased to 80,000 by 1787.
The 19th century was a time when many Jews assimilated, with many mixed marriages resulting. Reform Judaism was also born. From the 1830s poorer eastern European Jews began moving to Hungary in larger numbers. Many Hungarian Jews took part in the 1848/49 rebellion and their economic standing rose.
After the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War 1, the Jews of Hungary found themselves living within the borders of Czechoslovakia, Romania or Yugoslavia. In 1919 a period of ‘White Terror’ followed the short lived Hungarian Soviet Republic and some 3,000 Jews were murdered.
In the 1920s the situation was more stable, but by the late 1930s the first of a series of anti-Semitic laws were enacted, restricting socio-economic activities. Large-scale deportation of Jews to the Nazi death camps began after German
views of Donhany synagogue
occupation of Hungary in March 1944. Up to 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust. In 1946 anti-Jewish feeling led to pogroms in Kunmadaras, Miskoic and other towns. During the 1956 uprising against the Communists, 20,000 Jews chose to leave the country. Life began to improve for the Jews of Hungary in the late 1950s when they were able to re-establish links with the Jewish world. With the collapse of Communism, all restrictions on ties with Israel were also lifted.
Ezra in Hungary
Hungary is one of the newer countries where Ezra is working and we helped our first Olim from Hungary in 2013, and have continued since then. The numbers leaving Hungary are not high but have been steadily growing. As the political situation worsens – mainly due to the rise of the extreme right wing group Jobbik – the Jewish population is feeling more and more vulnerable. Our representatives are slowly building up relationships in the Jewish community and, as in most countries, are working closely with the Jewish Agency. For many of the Jewish people living outside of Budapest finances are an issue. Ezra has also been able to help several Jewish people from Serbia leave through Hungary.
In Jeremiah 31:10 we – the nations – are encouraged to proclaim that He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. Pray that the Lord will gather His scattered ones from Hungary and once in the Land will watch over them as a shepherd watches over His flock.
- Our team in Budapest for wisdom, safety in all travel, protection in every area of their lives. Please pray that we might be able to build a team of volunteer fishermen also in other parts of the country.
- All the organisations – Christian and Jewish – working in the Aliyah.
- God to remove any obstacles – particularly related to finance and documents – that the Jewish people have.
- That the Jewish people would recognise the dangers of the political situation and the rising anti-semitism and make the decision to leave for Israel.
- Pray for the provision of a vehicle for the work in Hungary which will make it easier to make contact with the Jewish people outside of Budapest and can also be used to offer transport to the airport.
Holocaust Memorial – Memorial of the Shoes
July 22, 2015 – The Burnt Closet Miracle – Georgia
Svetlana’s ancestors came to Georgia from Ukraine many years ago. It’s interesting how Svetlana found the documents she needed to prove her Jewish roots. She visited a burned out house belonging to her family in Ukraine hoping to search for some kind of tangible evidence that she is Jewish. Svetlana opened up a burnt closet and saw that the family documents had miraculously survived! She gathered up all of those documents and returned to Tbilisi.
Last year we helped Svetlana’s son, Dimitry, make Aliyah. Before he left Svetlana had a dream in which her father came to her with a basket full of sweets in his hands and told her “get ready to rejoice!” She found the documents and the dream she saw became like a confirmation for her to go to Israel with her family. Her living conditions here in Georgia were also not so good.
Once Svetlana had made the decision to leave, she contacted us for help. The financial help Ezra was able to give was a significant step forward in helping her apply to the Embassy for repatriation.
Praise God that today their whole family is living in Israel!
July 7, 2015 – Georgia Prayer Focus
Jewish History in Georgia
The Jews of Georgia are one of the oldest surviving Jewish communities outside of Israel. Some believe that the first Jews made their way to southern Georgia as early as 586 BCE, after Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem after first fleeing to Babylonia.
The first Jews in Western Georgia arrived in the 6th century when the area was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Due to persecution under the Byzantines some 3,000 of these Jews fled to Eastern Georgia which was ruled by the Persians.
The Russian Empire annexed Eastern Georgia in 1801 and this brought some Ashkenazi Jews into the area. A Jewish community began to be developed. Different groups moved together to the same towns and established their own respective synagogues, mainly made up of extended family groups. These small communities developed into the Jewish quarter of their particular towns.
One uniting factor was Zionism. The Ashkenazi joined Zionist organisations and spread their ideas to the Georgian Jews. Groups of Jewish people began making aliyah in 1863, mainly for religious reasons. By 1916 almost 450 Georgian Jews lived in then Palestine, mainly in Jerusalem.
Ezra In Georgia
Ezra International has worked in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia since 2000. Since that time they have helped more than 3,000 Jewish people make aliyah. In 2014 almost 60 Jewish people were helped on their way to Israel by the team in Georgia. Gia, Ezra’s main consultant on aliyah, says that the biggest obstacle for people who want to leave is selling their home on time. Another obstacle is that middle aged people don’t want to leave the graves of their relatives. Many of the Jewish people in Georgia are extremely poor, living in unbelievably difficult situations.
In Jeremiah 31:10 we – the nations – are encouraged to proclaim that He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd. Pray that the Lord will gather His scattered ones from Georgia and once in the Land will watch over them as a shepherd watches over His flock.
Our team and volunteer fishermen in Georgia, for wisdom, safety in all travel, protection in every area of their lives.
All the organisations – Christian and Jewish – working in the Aliyah.
God to remove any obstacles – particularly that people can solve the issues they have with documentation (finding the documents needed to prove their Jewish roots).
That more and more believers in Georgia will answer God’s call to the gentiles in Isaiah 49:22.
Due to changeover in our main representative in Georgia there is a lot of administration/red tape to work through. Please pray for this process to be completed quickly and for Givi – our main representative – to have wisdom and clarity as he works on this.