Anna, her daughter Tania, and Tania’s ten-month-old daughter lived in Kyiv when the bombing and shelling started in Ukraine. Fearful and uncertain at having to flee their home and friends, Anna, with her daughter and granddaughter, temporarily sought shelter in Moldova until they could arrange to make Aliyah.
Aliyah, the Law of Return, was passed by the Israeli parliament in 1950, giving all diaspora Jews and their children and grandchildren the right to relocate to Israel and acquire Israeli citizenship based on their Jewish identity.
Aliyah was the hope and joy of Anna’s family in the midst of the sorrow of Russia bombing and invading their homeland. By law, they were allowed to immigrate to Israel as Jews. They had a place to go, a refuge, hope, and a future, because of Aliyah.
Aliyah: Hope or Not?
The state of Israel set up the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption to provide new immigrants and returning residents with financial, vocational, educational, and other help to acclimate to living in Israel. Israel is known as a country of immigrants, but it is also a country of refugees. To Anna and Tania, it was a place to escape the horrors of war and establish a home where they were not only wanted but welcomed by the Law of Return.
However, once Anna, Tania, and the baby reached Israel, they were met not with open arms but with rejection and closed doors. The government has not been able to handle the influx of refugees. They are falling very short of being able to offer what the Ministry of Aliyah has been set up to do for immigrants. One problem is that the immigrants are mostly mothers with children whose husbands were conscripted into the Ukrainian army. The mothers need to take care of their children and can’t work outside the home. The immigrants don’t speak Hebrew and don’t understand the culture of Israel. Many who have come were professionals before, with a good lifestyle. They had to leave everything behind, bringing only what they could carry. Now many are living on the street, trying to find housing and a way to earn money.
Being welcomed with a pillow and a blanket and told to “find a place to sleep on the street until we can find you a place to live” is not the kind of welcome Anna and Tania expected. They searched for an apartment, only to be rejected 40 times for being Ukrainian immigrants. In the words of Anna, “It was a really hard time for us morally.”
Help From Messianic Jews
The good news is that the Messianic community in Israel has seen this as a tremendous opportunity to help immigrants. The funds sent by ANM have enabled teams to welcome families to Israel and walk them through the complicated steps of immigrating to a new country. They help to ease their financial and emotional burdens and make them feel that they have finally reached their home. Many Jews are coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah because of the concern, love, and help provided by ANM partners.
The attitude of many residents in Israel is “we don’t want to know the immigrants. We don’t want them in our neighborhoods. We don’t want them in our homes. We don’t want them competing with our children for housing, educational opportunities, and jobs.” This attitude has caused a sense of tension to build up socially. Ironically, many of the residents were immigrants or refugees themselves at one time. When the residents saw our partners helping the immigrants, they asked questions. Why are they helping? Why are they so friendly, kind, and loving? The help is a way of making the Messianic believers known in a positive light, which is helping open doors for the Gospel. It is taking the weight off the shoulders of the government and helping the ministries find favor with the government. Giving aid to Jewish refugees is an opportunity to fly the true colors of the Messianic community in Israel.
A Solution that Helps Everyone
Just as local believers helped Anna and Tania find a place to live and ways to adjust, they are offering rapid-fire assistance to other refugees. The ministry finds rental homes for them or renovates rundown homes. The homes are repaired quickly with volunteer help to house the immigrants. The immigrants are taken out of a draining and challenging situation by providing suitable living quarters. Our partners help them get an education and find jobs. This ministry is making a tremendous difference in the lives of the immigrants and proving itself a friend to the Israeli government and residents. A win for everyone!
How can you help these Jewish Ukrainian refugees? You can download the prayer guide “21 Ways You Can Advance the Kingdom Through Prayer” so that you may pray effectively for our partners’ needs. The most pressing request we receive from our missionary partners is the need to have people pray for them. Please join us in meeting that need today.