Aliyah Milestone

ICEJ invests $40m bringing 100,000 home since 1989

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10 Oct 2006 (All day)
Aliyah Milestone

After nearly two decades of tireless effort and an investment of millions of dollars, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem warmly welcomed Valery Bershadskiy to the 2006 Feast of Tabernacles celebration this week - the 100,000th Jewish immigrant that the ICEJ has helped literally make 'aliyah' (ascent) to Israel since 1989.

Speaking to a press reception at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Thursday, ICEJ Media Director David Parsons said that Bershadskiy's story – from managing an electric plant in St. Petersburg to settling in the coastal Israeli town of Bat Yam earlier this year – is just one of many thousands that could be told.

"But he represents that massive outpouring of Christian love towards the Jewish people in recent years, in fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy to 'gather them from the ends of the earth,'" Parsons explained, quoting Jeremiah 31.

Although Bershadskiy and his wife Miriam look the part of born-and-bred Israelis, they arrived just a few months ago on a packed flight of Russians who traveled through frozen Helsinki before landing in sweltering Tel Aviv. Sponsored by the ICEJ's Finnish Branch, the aircraft was the 54th such flight sponsored by the Christian Embassy and its national branches worldwide since the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 1980s.

"Indeed, from the northernmost parts of the globe and from the far-reaches of the earth, the Jewish people are returning to Israel in great numbers," added ICEJ Executive Director Rev. Malcolm Hedding, "and for many of them, Christian Zionism is fueling that journey."

Altogether, more than one million Jews have immigrated to Israel since 1989 with the Embassy directly assisting one in ten on their journey and helping twice that number at some point during the subsequent process of getting settled in the land. According to the ICEJ Finance Director Timothy King, the Embassy has invested over $40 million dollars into aliyah projects over the years, covering travel costs and helping with the difficult process of settling into a new home.

Furthermore, Christian supporters from dozens of nations have donated to immigration programs and volunteers from around the world have helped to provide lodging, furnishings, food, healthcare, clothing, and financial aid for those "olim" (newcomers) in need.

Although the first waves of aliyah were mostly Jews from the former Soviet Union, a growing but steady stream of Jews from North America and Europe have been coming to Israel in recent years, marking a breakthrough in a new frontier of Western aliyah.

“It was so encouraging and really important to know that there are people, even strangers, who are so excited and supportive of your decision to resettle in Israel, that they are willing to help financially,” one recent immigrant from Toronto told Canada's national director ICEJ Donna Holbrook, who helped pay her aliyah expenses.

According to Hedding, it is "quite remarkable that over the last 16 years the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, with much hard work and commitment throughout the vast former Soviet Union and many other regions of the world, has been able to assist so many Jewish people to return to the land of their forefathers."