Surge in Russian Aliyah

ICEJ Aliyah

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Posted on: 
3 Feb 2016
Surge in Russian Aliyah

Aliyah from Russia is rapidly increasing due to a major recession triggered by falling oil prices and sanctions resulting from the Ukrainian civil war. If you can believe it, Russian Aliyah is now increasing faster than Ukrainian Aliyah!

In the past year, Aliyah from Russia rose by nearly 44%, while Aliyah from Ukraine increased by 34%, due to the continuing skirmishes and a bad economy. Both statistics remind us of the dreadful facts: The situation of Jews in both countries is foreboding. Overall, Aliyah from the former Soviet Union nations increased by about 36%.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, ICEJ supporters have been faithful in helping the former Soviet Jewry return home to Israel, and today our help is continuously needed!

In many places in the Bible the Lord calls out to the Gentiles to help bring His people home. In Isaiah 49:22 we read: “See. I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will carry your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.”

Just as it was in the time of exodus from Egypt, the homecoming of the children of Israel is a witness to the world, and a testimony of the faithfulness of the one true God who keeps His promises.

Russian Reality

Today Russian Jews are moving to Israel in greater numbers mainly because of economic hardships. The Russian ruble is a “petro-currency” which means that as oil loses value on the market, so does the ruble. Since the slide began over a year ago, the Russian ruble has lost more than half of its value, which devalued everyone’s savings accounts by 50% or more.

This also means every square meter of Russian real estate has lost more than half of its real value. Traveling abroad has become twice as expensive and foreign vacations have become out of reach for most Russians.

One of the hardest hit sectors is commercial aviation, where costs are counted in dollars and euros because most of the airplanes are leased, but people’s income remains in rubles. Wages and salaries have not increased in this period, so airline tickets and accommodations have doubled.

This financial situation has also led some airlines to cancel or cut back on unprofitable flight routes. For instance, Israel’s main airline El Al canceled flights to St. Petersburg and Transaero, a major Russian airline, went bankrupt and ceased operations.

All these factors have impacted not only the Jewry in this geographical region, but also the process of bringing them home to Israel. Arranging flights for Russian Jews to their homeland has become a challenge, as signing contracts for their Aliyah flights has become difficult. Another challenge is increasingly tighter baggage allowance policies, which is a critical element of every family’s journey.

Help through ICEJ

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was quick to respond and generously sponsored luggage for many of the Jewish families needing assistance at this time. Additionally, the ICEJ increased its program “Aliyah through Finland,” which was in operation already in the 1990s, to relieve some of the pressure in traveling from Russia to Israel.

For more than 25 years Finnish Christians have been inviting Russian Jews to come to Finland on their way to Israel. Today all of the expenses of this journey are paid by an organization in Finland led by the ICEJ. The sponsorship covers all travel costs, including the flight, up to three bags, bus transportation to the airport, and three nights in the homes of Finnish Christians.

The ICEJ has a base in St. Petersburg, which was established in the early 1990s for the purposes of Aliyah. This allows us to help not only the Jewish families in the northwestern region of Russia, but also in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus. Each year the ICEJ assists more than one thousand new immigrants from this region, and the numbers continue to increase. 

Please join the ICEJ in responding to this urgent need!

 

 

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