“Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), a notable contributor to funding aliyah – Jewish immigration to Israel – plans to double its numbers for 2016, hoping to bring at least 4,000 new immigrants from countries worldwide to settle in the Jewish state.
Since the launch of its aliyah program in December 2014, the organization has brought over 2,000 new olim (immigrants) to Israel from Ukraine, France, Moldova, North Africa, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, and an unnamed Arab country.
Partly in response to the sharp uptick in anti-Semitic sentiment and violence throughout the world, the IFCJ will double its efforts in 2016 to relieve the strain of thousands of Jews living abroad in unstable and dangerous places. In the coming year, IFCJ aims to expand its aliyah services to more countries, including Spain and Russia.
These services include not only the initial easing of the aliyah process but tailored financial assistance for individuals and families who need more than basic help. For example, immigrants from Ukraine will receive special aid for the purpose of escaping the country’s civil unrest.
Immigration to Israel is at an all-time high, with 28,000 olim making aliyah in 2015, beating the previous record of 25,000 in 2014. One quarter of olim make aliyah with privately-funded organizations like Nefesh b’Nefesh, which ICFJ helped found 15 years ago with a seed gift of $2 million.
Over the past 15 years, the IFCJ, with the help of its Christian donors worldwide, has contributed over $200 million to the overall aliyah effort, helping some 725,000 Jews from Ethiopia, India, the former Soviet Union, and many other countries move to their homeland in Israel.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ, said in a statement, “The historic focus on aliyah as Israel’s national program to rescue the world’s Jews and build the Jewish state has dimmed, but we are ramping up a new, independent aliyah movement to help Jews from around the Diaspora who are still threatened by anti-Semitism and economic hardship.”
He added that Christian support of the organization’s aliyah efforts has been instrumental in helping thousands of olim make aliyah, saying, “In a short time, with the help of so many incredible Christian friends of Israel, we’ve already brought thousands of Jews home, and in the coming year we are rededicating ourselves to rebuilding aliyah – and the Jewish homeland.”
The IFCJ, which the world’s largest organization of Christians actively working with Jews to support Israel and the Jewish people, contributes to a wide range of causes in the country and worldwide which includes the IDF and security efforts, emergency medical services, poverty relief, and many more. The organization has raised nearly $1.25 billion since its founding by Eckstein in 1983.