Photo Friday: A Good and Spacious Land

(Photo: Eva Geller)

(Photo: Eva Geller)

“…bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8)

A young Jewish girl from Ukraine looks out at her new and historic homeland, Israel. This week’s Freedom Flight carrying 110 new olim to the Holy Land would not have been possible without our many faithful supporters. Shabbat shalom, friends.

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Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 1:07 PM  | Stand For Israel

Welcoming a Flight to Freedom

(Photo: Baz Ratner)

(Photo: Baz Ratner)

Israel is the historic and spiritual home of the Jewish people, which makes possible the aliyah (immigration) of 110 Ukrainian Jews on a Fellowship Freedom Flight this week. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein tells how each one of these new olim makes Israel more complete:

I arrived at the airport half an hour before the first group of 110 immigrants on the latest Fellowship Freedom Flight from Ukraine was supposed to come out of processing as Israeli citizens. There were already dozens of people holding signs, singing songs and waving Israeli flags, waiting to greet these immigrants to the Holy Land.

It amazed me how total strangers came to the airport in the middle of the day, simply to show their support and appreciation for these newest Israeli citizens. From the time I was young I have heard the beautiful quotation from the Talmud that says “The people are all responsible for one another,” and here I was at Ben-Gurion Airport, watching those words come alive …

I am lucky to live in these historic times, when Jews have a homeland to go to when persecution and war strike. As we celebrate the Seder meal on Passover next week, remember the Jews in Ukraine who are praying for freedom. They are yearning to come home – and it’s time for all of us to unite, and to make that dream a reality.

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Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 11:11 AM  | Stand For Israel

Remembering the Park Hotel Passover Bombing

(Photo: wikicommons/Avi1111)

(Photo: wikicommons/Avi1111)

Today marks the 13th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack of the Second Intifada. On March 27, 2002, Jews around the world were celebrating Passover. The Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, Israel, was hosting its annual Passover seder, with 250 guests observing the Jewish holiday. Many of the seder guests were elderly Jews without family or relatives, and many of these were Holocaust survivors.

As the seder was going on, a terrorist disguised as a woman sneaked into the hotel’s dining room with a suitcase full of explosives. At 7:30 pm, the suicide bomber detonated the bomb, killing 28 and injuring 140. Two victims later died from their wounds. A number of the dead were married couples, and the deceased included a father and his daughter.

The Hamas terrorists who planned the attack were arrested, with four of them receiving 29 life sentences and one being given 20 years in prison.

We remember the victims of this horrific moment in Israeli history, carried out as the Jewish people celebrated what should have been a joyous time. May their memories be a blessing.

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Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 10:36 AM  | Stand For Israel

In Ukraine, War Only Minutes Away

(Photo: JDC/Rachel Calman)

(Photo: JDC/Rachel Calman)

This week’s Fellowship Freedom Flight allowed 110 Ukrainian Jews to escape their war-torn country and find a new life in the Holy Land. But so many Jews remain in Ukraine, caught in the chaos and conflict. Writing from the devastated city of Mariupol, Ukraine, The Jerusalem Post’s Sam Sokol tells of that city’s Jewish community, a community being helped by The Fellowship and our supporters and partners:

I want to see the war with my own eyes.

In front sit two soldiers of the Dnepr Battalion, a privately funded pro-government militia, a loaded Kalashnikov and two shoulder-fired rockets on the floor between them. We pass several checkpoints with heavy weapons and concrete bunkers hidden behind mounds of dirt and sandbags. Antitank obstacles bracket the road and checkpoints.

Only around 40 percent of the 3,000 or so pre-war inhabitants remain in the village, with the rest having been forced out by rockets fired from across the river …

During the winter when the river froze there were several raids here, one soldier tells me as we pull up to a house with a shattered roof.

A dog barks and pulls at his chain as we get out of the pickup and an old woman pulls her door open a crack to see who we are. She slams the door shut and a minute later reemerges with an elderly man.

They introduce themselves as Volodya and Olga, pensioners and farmers who are living in an outbuilding next to their farmhouse, whose roof is being rebuilt after being hit by a separatist rocket two weeks ago.

Asked if they are scared, they reply that they live in fear and that every day they listen to the sounds of rocket fire, and “if it sounds too loud we go down to the basement.”

They would like to go elsewhere but cannot afford it, they tell me …

Unlike in rebel held areas like Donetsk or Luhansk, refugees from Mariupol frequently come back to the government-controlled city and the Jewish community here, along with the financial…

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Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 8:29 AM  | Stand For Israel

Yemen’s Jews Seek to Escape Deteriorating Conflict

(Photo: flickr/Tribes of the World)

(Photo: flickr/Tribes of the World)

This week we’ve been keeping you up-to-date on the escalating conflict in Yemen, where Iran-backed rebels are trying to wrest control of the country, while Saudi Arabia and other Arab forces try to stop them. Israel Hayom reports that the situation has led to the Yemeni Jewish community to look for an escape:

Saudi Arabia on Thursday launched airstrikes targeting military installations in Yemen held by Shiite rebels storming the country’s south. Some of the strikes are hitting positions in the capital, Sanaa.

In a statement, Iran’s foreign ministry called the airstrikes a “dangerous step” that would worsen the crisis in the country.

The statement did not name Saudi Arabia but called the airstrikes an “invasion.” Iran is believed to be supporting the Houthi insurgency.

In the meantime, with the country on the brink of violent collapse, Yemen’s Jewish population was also feeling the effects of the deteriorating security situation.

“We know that you in Israel are worried about us and are thinking of us. Our country is being taken over and there isn’t much we can do. We want to move to Israel but we have matters to finish tending to and everything here is very difficult,” said Yehiye, 35, a father of six from Sanaa.

Avraham, 40, a father of five from the city of Rayda, said: “The situation is very bad here. Every day — there is danger. We want to sell the house, but can’t. No one wants to buy. The [non-Jews] want us to leave without getting money. We want to get out of here as quickly as possible. The moment I can get paid for the house I’m gone. I barely let my kids out of the house. I am worried about them; there is a lot of hatred and racism. If we need something, I jump out, buy it and return immediately.”

Moshe, a 50-year-old father of three also from Rayda, said that…

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Friday, March 27th, 2015 at 8:17 AM  | Stand For Israel

Fellowship Freedom Flight Brings 110 Ukrainian Jews to Israel

iitn Earlier this week, 110 Jewish refugees from war-torn Ukraine arrived in Tel Aviv on a Freedom Flight sponsored by The Fellowship.These flights are part of an ongoing program to bring Jews wanting to flee the situation in Ukraine to their spiritual and historical homeland in Israel.

Also this week in Israel in the News:

• The rift between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu widened this week because of remarks Netanyahu made about a Palestinian state prior to his re-election.
• Rebels in Yemen promise revenge for “Zionist” Saudi attacks as the U.N. predicts a full-blown civil war.
• Seven Orthodox Jewish children, killed earlier this week in a house fire in Brooklyn, were laid to rest in Jerusalem as hundreds of mourners came to pay their respects.
• A drunken mob of 20 stormed a synagogue in London this week, shattering windows and assaulting one worshiper.

This week’s Israel in the News Perspective features The Fellowship’s Yonit Rothchild on the one constant in Israeli life.

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 5:00 PM  | Stand for Israel

Welcoming the Newest Israelis Home

Earlier this week, Fellowship Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein was at Ben Gurion Airport – along with many others – to welcome the newest Israelis to the Holy Land. Watch Yael explain the emotions she feels when welcoming olim (immigrants) to their spiritual and historical homeland.

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 3:18 PM  | Stand For Israel

Olim Are the Key to the Future

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

As we have happily told you, this week another Fellowship Freedom Flight brought 110 Ukrainian Jews to their historic homeland in Israel. Now we will support these new olim (immigrants) as they settle into new lives in the Holy Land. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Dmitry Apartsev – himself an immigrant to Israel from the former Soviet Union – writes that Israel’s newest citizens are part of the Jewish state’s future:

One-third of Katzrin’s proud residents are olim from the Former Soviet Union – veteran olim and new olim, just like me. It is impossible to imagine the Katzrin Local Council, which I head, and Katzrin’s 7,000 residents without its immigrant population. The olim of Katzrin are the central power in the city’s development, a significant component of its strength and an important key to its future. And what is right for Katzrin is, of course, right for the State of Israel as a whole.

I made aliya from Lithuania as a young boy, part of the large wave of immigration to Israel in the early 1990s. Believe me – being a “new oleh” is not an experience that you easily forget. Immigrating to a new country is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. Someone who has not experienced first-hand the sensations of separation and strangeness will never understand what it’s like to move to a new country, a new language.

These challenges, without a doubt, formed who I am today and helped shape the public official I became, one who has served in senior positions in immigration and absorption policy in Israel …

Tonight, I will pick up the phone and call a family of new immigrants that arrived in Israel this morning on the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ (known here as the “Keren LeYedidut”) third “Fellowship Flight” from Ukraine.

They join four other families who recently came to northern Israel on a prior aliya flight organized by IFCJ’s head, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

I will tell them a bit about myself, my background, and…

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8:52 AM  | Stand For Israel

Yemen Rebels Threaten Revenge on “Zionist” Saudis After Airstrike

(Photo: DoD/ Tech. Sgt. Hans Deffner)

(Photo: DoD/ Tech. Sgt. Hans Deffner)

In today’s Daily Dispatch, we report on Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on the Yemeni rebels who have plunged that Middle-Eastern nation into chaos, as well as Iran’s response, as they back said extremist rebellion. The Times of Israel’s Lazar Berman writes about the anti-Israel rhetoric being used by the radicals as they battle the U.S.-supported military action to bring a semblance of peace to Yemen:

As Saudi Arabia carried out airstrikes in Yemen Wednesday against Houthi forces, an official from the Shiite rebel group said they would exact revenge on “the Zionist Saudi regime,” the Israeli Ynet news site reported.

Saudi Arabia launched an operation early Thursday to save the government of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi as the country teetered on the brink of civil war after the Iran-backed separatists overran the southern stronghold of Aden …

Anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish rhetoric is common among the Houthis. The slogan “Death to Israel. A curse on the Jews.” is common on flags and other propaganda materials.

Last week, video of the bombing of a Houthi mosque in Yemen showed the crowd chanting “Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam. Allahu Akbar,” before a suicide bomber detonated himself, killing scores.

The United States is coordinating closely with Saudi Arabia and regional allies in the military action against Houthi rebels in Yemen, including providing intelligence and logistical support, the White House said Wednesday.

“President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council …

Two senior US Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, endorsed the attacks …

“We understand why our Saudi and other Arab partners felt compelled to take action. The prospect of radical groups like Al-Qaeda, as well as Iranian-backed militants, finding safe haven on the border of Saudi Arabia was more than our Arab partners could withstand,” the senators said in a…

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8:28 AM  | Stand For Israel

Yemen Under Onslaught by Iran-Backed Rebels

(Photo: flickr/flat.luxury)

(Photo: flickr/flat.luxury)

Last week we reported on the suicide bombings that killed over 100 in Yemen, and we have also told you about the persecution faced by the country’s remaining Jews. Today, news from Yemen has grown worse, as The Times of Israel reports that the Yemeni president has fled, the defense minister has been captured, and Iran-backed rebels are gaining ground:

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled his country by sea on a boat from the port of Aden, as Shiite rebels and their allies advance on this southern city, security and port officials said Wednesday…

Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since the Houthi Shiite rebels launched a power takeover in Sanaa in February.

The strife has raised fears that the country could be torn apart by a proxy war between Shiite Iran, accused of backing the rebels, and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which supports Hadi.

In a major blow to the embattled leader, the Houthis said they had captured his defense minister in their push southwards.

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 at 12:05 PM  | Stand For Israel

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State of Israel"

Rabbi’s Commentary
A Beacon of Freedom in a Sea of Oppression

Last week, a United Nations’ commission singled out Israel as the world’s worst violator of women’s rights – ignoring the Jewish state’s offering of full freedom to women…


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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