A Warm Welcome to Israel

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

A Fellowship staff member, who was present on the tarmac when the Freedom Flight from Ukraine landed, shares his observations from the new immigrants’ first hours in the Holy Land:

The welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion airport for the new olim (immigrants) from Ukraine just ended. It was great, from the moment the plane landed on the tarmac, to the end.

The plane pulled up and the first people off of the plane were Rabbi Eckstein and a member of the Israeli Knesset, Sofa Landver. It was a rainy day, but the rain couldn’t dampen the smiles and spirits of the olim. Rabbi Eckstein and Sofa Landver greeted the 206 olim, families, children, babies as they came off the plane. People were waving Israeli flags and singing Hebrew songs of joy. Rabbi Eckstein called out to the olim, “Welcome to Israel!” as they deplaned, hugged them, and helped them down the stairs into the Holy Land of Israel. “There is no more such thing as Jewish refugees as long as we have the state of Israel willing to take in every Jew, and an army and government that want to protect us.”

In the ceremony there was lots of singing and dancing. Groups of kids, soldiers, and families from across the country came to greet the new immigrants, singing and waving flags to celebrate their arrival. Rabbi Eckstein spoke about how all Jews are responsible for one another, but now it’s not only Jews; it’s over 1.4 million Christians that love us, stand with us, look out for us, and are making sure that any Jew who wants to come home will be able to do so.

Click here for more information about The Fellowship‘s historic initiative to rescue Ukraine’s Jews.

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Monday, December 22nd, 2014 at 4:30 PM  | Stand For Israel

Helping Ukraine’s Jews in the Face of Hardship

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

As we reported earlier, The Fellowship’s historic aliyah flight landed safely today in Israel. The grateful Ukrainian Jews who were welcomed to their new home in the Holy Land are just a few of those who have been helped by The Fellowship and its generous supporters, Yediot Achronot reports:

Up until last year, the Jewish community in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk was large, prosperous and consisted of over 15,000 Jews …

The major change occurred in July 2014 with the start of the fighting, when missiles were fired at population centers and resulted in several casualties (they do not have a siren alert system, shelters or the Iron Dome) …

Some immigrated to Germany and were given refugee status there, while some decided to rebuild their lives in Ukraine. Some also chose to immigrate to Israel … a dramatic increase in immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union, mainly due to the doubling number of immigrants from Ukraine.

“This is a staggering increase of about 28% in immigration from all nations compared to the previous year and a record number in the past five years,” says Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver. “The immigration is the future of Israel and is a primary national mission …”

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), reinforced Landver’s words: “More people would be willing to come if they hear from immigrants that absorption in Israel is better. The new immigrants are absorbed in six towns in the country and mayors accompany them from the moment they land, travel with them to the towns and personally take care of them …”

The Jews in the former Soviet Union constitute the largest and poorest Jewish community in the world. The fall of the Soviet regime and the sharp transition to capitalism left entire populations without a social safety net and adequate welfare institutions. For example, elderly citizens receive pensions that amount to less than $200 dollars…

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Monday, December 22nd, 2014 at 12:37 PM  | Stand For Israel

Fellowship Freedom Flight Has Landed

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

We are thrilled to report that The Fellowship’s Freedom Flight – with 200 Ukrainians who are making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) – has just landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. We will keep you updated as more news develops.

Learn more about this historic aliyah.

(Photo: IFCJ)

(Photo: IFCJ)

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Monday, December 22nd, 2014 at 8:51 AM  | Stand For Israel

Netanyahu: Hamas and PA Attacking Israel on Two Fronts

(Photo: twitter/IsraeliPM)

(Photo: twitter/IsraeliPM)

In today’s Daily Dispatch, we note that Hamas has again been testing its rockets. And the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) continues to make moves for statehood and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Times of Israel reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out against these actions, saying that Hamas and the P.A. are attacking Israel on two fronts:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lumped together unilateral diplomatic moves by the Palestinian Authority and rocket fire from Gaza terror groups Sunday, saying they added up to Israel being attacked simultaneously on two fronts …

The prime minister also accused the PA of attempting to undermine Israel’s very existence, and asserted that Ramallah hoped to deprive the Jewish state of the ability to ensure its own security …

“Israel is being attacked simultaneously on two fronts,” Netanyahu said during a Hanukkah candle lighting with soldiers at an army base Sunday night.

“It is attacked by the terrorism of Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and is also subject to the diplomatic offensive led by the Palestinian Authority, which is intended to strip us of our right to defend ourselves and directed at eliminating the legitimacy of our existence,” he said.

Israel, the prime minister said, was pushing back on both fronts.

Netanyahu’s comments came two days after a rocket was fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, landing in an open area and causing no damage. The Israeli air force later responded to the attack, hitting a Hamas factory that was producing cement to rebuild the terror tunnels destroyed and damaged in last summer’s war, according to Israeli officials.

The cross-border fire was the first serious exchange since Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in late August, ending a bloody 50-day war.

Addressing the Palestinians’ diplomatic bid, Netanyahu called the conditions set forth in the UN Security Council draft resolution “unacceptable.”

“We expect those responsible from the international community to reject the bid, but in any case, we will oppose it and obviously we will not follow any…

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Monday, December 22nd, 2014 at 7:46 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Fellowship: On the Ground in Ukraine

(Photo: JDC)

(Photo: JDC)

An update from one of our Fellowship staff members on the ground in Ukraine, awaiting tomorrow’s historic aliyah:

We finished a press conference and had just an hour to get dressed for Shabbat. I had the most exciting Shabbat in my life. To hear Rabbi Eckstein lead the prayers with these Jewish refugees was overwhelming.

I think it was a feeling of being all together, united. Next to me was sitting a young woman from Luhansk. It was her first time in synagogue. I explained her that it’s OK, but if she’ll read the prayer in Russian it will make her understand that everything is OK and will be OK. She was crying, and all I could do is hold her hand.

On Saturday evening, we all went to the seminar to meet the olim (immigrants). It was so exciting — our first olim talked about their emotions and fears, about the past and about the future. We were talking, singing and dancing. But my unforgettable moment was singing Hatikva with Rabbi Eckstein and the families. It was so strong.

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Sunday, December 21st, 2014 at 8:11 PM  | Stand For Israel

Photo Friday: Hanukkah in Germany, 1932

(Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Shulamith Posner-Mansbach)

(Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Shulamith Posner-Mansbach)

This week, the Jewish people are celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. This photo, taken in Kiel, Germany, in 1932 – and generously provided to us by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – tells the story of a Hanukkah during another time:

The window looks out on the town hall, in front of which a Nazi banner hangs. The menorah belonged to Rabbi Akiva Posner, the rabbi of Kiel.

Shulamit Mansbach (born Shulamit Posner) is the daughter of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Baruch Posner and Rosie Wurzburg Posner. She was born on April 12, 1927 in Kiel, Germany where her father served as the town’s rabbi. Her older sister Gitta was born in 1925 and her younger brother Avraham Chaim was born in 1929. On April 1, 1933, a Jewish boy, from out of town, visited his parents who owned a store in Kiel. This was the day of the boycott. He found the store surrounded by Nazis but decided to enter anyhow. The Nazis murdered him on the spot, and Rabbi Posner buried him that evening. After the funeral, members of the community urged Rabbi Posner to flee warning him that his life was now in danger. Rabbi Posner was reluctant to leave his congregation but eventually was persuaded. The family left Kiel for Antwerp Belgium two months later. Rabbi Posner opened up a store for Jewish religious articles and a Jewish lending library. The family lived behind the store. In the meantime, Rabbi Posner’s sister immigrated to Palestine, and she urged him to join her there. The Posners immigrated to Palestine in mid 1935, and Rabbi Posner worked first as a librarian for the Mizrachi Seminar and then became the head librarian of Hechal Shlomo.

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Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 1:08 PM  | Stand For Israel

Cement for Rebuilding Gaza Used for Hamas Terror Tunnels

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

(Photo: flickr/IDF)

During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF put an end to many of the terror tunnels that Hamas had built in order to attack Israel. Since the end of this past summer’s war, international efforts to help rebuild Gaza after the devastating conflict have begun. However, The Times of Israel reports that cement intended for civilian reconstruction is instead being used to repair the terrorist organization’s tunnels:

The Hamas terror group has been redoubling its efforts to restore the cross-border offensive tunnels that were destroyed by Israel during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported Friday morning.

According to the reports, some of the cement and other materials being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory, as part of an international rebuilding effort, has been diverted to the tunnels.

Hamas has realized that the tunnels, which were used to stage attacks on Israeli military targets during the war, provide it with a psychological edge over residents of Israeli border towns in the area …

The Gaza group has also begun restocking its depleted rocket arsenal, the Hebrew media reports said. Some rockets are imported through smuggling tunnels from Egypt and others are manufactured in the Strip. Many of the smuggling tunnels — one of Hamas’s main sources of revenue — were still open for business, despite massive efforts by Egypt to crack down on them.

According to the reports, Hamas has acknowledged the limited efficacy of its mid- and longer-range rockets, many of which were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during the war, inflicting very limited civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Hamas has recognized the deadliness of mortar shells, which fall short of Iron Dome’s range.

One new approach that Hamas has been considering in an effort to extend its effective range is to launch large volleys of rockets that would challenge Iron Dome’s ability to fire interceptors in rapid succession, the reports said. It has also been conducting tests, lobbing dozens of rockets into the Mediterranean Sea in recent weeks, according to Ynet, which cited Palestinian Gaza sources in its…

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Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 11:39 AM  | Stand For Israel

True Candles in the Darkness

(Photo: flickr/ Robert Couse-Baker)

(Photo: flickr/ Robert Couse-Baker)

This week, the Jewish people are celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. While it is a time of family and love, not every child is able to share in these blessings. The Fellowship’s Senior Vice President Yael Eckstein writes of the foster parents who care for those children whose lives would otherwise be without the love of a family:

Lighting the Hanukka candles with my husband and children brings up so many emotions. I have vivid nostalgic memories of lighting the candles as a little girl and dancing with my sisters and parents as we sang joyful Hanukka tunes. I smile each time I recall the brilliant scene in Jerusalem of beautiful menorahs glimmering outside every door. But my heart weeps as I look at my children’s smiling faces, illuminated by the light of the menorah, and think about thousands of precious children in Israel who cannot be raised by their parents …

Just a short while ago I met a family who showed me the deepest meaning of love, commitment and values. The lessons they taught me are endless.

Rita and Jay are foster parents who took in an infant boy and twin two-year-old girls who had been abandoned by their single mother. “Foster families in Israel are volunteers with religious and moral drive,” explained a social worker who deals with such families. “Unlike in America, they receive no monthly income, and the government barely covers the basic needs for the children in their care.” It was amazing for me to see the dedication and love of these dedicated foster parents, despite the financial hardships they face.

Sitting in Rita and Jay’s small two-bedroom apartment, surrounded by warm colors, stuffed animals and a baby-proofed dresser in the living room, I listened as the social worker explained that, without philanthropic assistance, this family and hundreds of others like them would not be able to pay for the medical expenses, therapy, diapers and food that their foster children require. “We rely on others to…

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Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 10:19 AM  | Stand For Israel

The Fellowship Lands in Ukraine to Aid Jews in Distress

(Photo: IFCJ)

The Fellowship will be flying hundreds of Ukrainians to their new home in the Holy Land on December 22, in a historic aliyah (immigration to Israel). Israel Hayom reports that Rabbi Eckstein and a Fellowship delegation have landed in Ukraine to help those who so need our aid:

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Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 8:52 AM  | Stand for Israel

Countdown to Next Gaza Conflict Has Begun

(Photo: flickr/  l_suddenly)

(Photo: flickr/ l_suddenly)

In today’s Daily Dispatch we report on two alarming incidents – a rocket from Gaza landed in Israel today, and Hamas is using the building materials meant for Gaza’s reconstruction in order to repair their terror tunnels. As Yaakov Lappin writes for Gatestone Institute, it looks like the next conflict in Gaza may be on its way:

More than three months have passed since the end of the fifty-day conflict between Hamas in Gaza and Israel this past summer, yet all of the catalysts that helped spark that war remain in place and are pushing the sides into their next clash.

One of the reasons Hamas launched a war in July this year was to try to end its strategic isolation, which became severe after the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in next-door Egypt. Hamas also sought to improve its crumbling economic situation as the ruler of the Gaza Strip; its dire situation was illustrated by Hamas’s inability to pay 40,000 of its Gazan employees their monthly salaries.

Hamas could, with a fair amount of ease, cause Israel to end its security blockade by accepting the terms of the international Quartet. These would include recognizing the state of Israel, renouncing violence and abiding by previous diplomatic agreements. Of course, those would contravene Hamas’s ideology of Islamist jihad and move it away from its current trajectory of organized violence and religious hatred, the foundations upon which it was established in the 1980s by Palestinian members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Today, however, the same problems that plagued Hamas prior to the summer war have become worse. Gaza is hemmed in to the south by a hostile Egypt under the rule of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Egypt is systematically cutting off the smuggling tunnels that linked Sinai to the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas is no longer easily able to smuggle either weapons or goods it can tax before they enter Gaza’s market …

Hamas has, since the moment that hostilities ended in…

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Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 8:39 AM  | Stand for Israel

"informing, equipping and mobilizing individuals and churches to support the
State of Israel"

Rabbi’s Commentary
Answering His Call, Faithfully and Joyfully

2014 has certainly been a year of struggles. But those challenges have been answered by God, and by His faithful followers. The Fellowship and our generous friends have been able to offer assistance to those who need it most, from the Holy Land to the former Soviet Union, and we look hopefully to the coming year as one of peace, prosperity, and repairing the world.

Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »


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