A Hope and a Future

February 1, 2008
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Olga made aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Charkov, Ukraine. She was invited by the Israeli government to participate in the SELAH program (SELAH is a Hebrew acronym for students before parents). This Jewish Agency program seeks out the best Jewish students throughout the former Soviet Union and invites them to make aliyah to study in an Israeli university. This special program pays for tuition and housing for bright students. What an extraordinary opportunity for young people to get a higher education and make a new start in their Jewish homeland! There are currently 4,000 students in Israel without families, just like Olga. They face many difficulties:

  • Learning Hebrew up to university level
  • Leaving family behind to come alone to a new land with a very different culture
  • The lack of emotional and financial support of friends and family
  • Financial hardship because apart from housing and tuition, students like Olga must provide all of their other needs themselves, which requires paid employment―usually low paying jobs―to survive.

It is a very challenging time for these students. But, Olga is thrilled to be in Israel, despite the many daunting situations she faces. She found a love for Israel in an unusual way. As a young teenager, she visited an exhibition of 17th century Jewish art and felt something stir inside. She knew then that she would one day live in Israel. Today, her dream has come true, and she feels like she is home.

Last year, Olga completed her computer programming studies at the Hadassah College of Technology. Now she studies math to complete a bachelor’s degree in computer science. She plans to take a doctorate at Hebrew University in computer science. For now, Olga works part time as a cleaner to earn her living. She proves herself an adventuresome person, not only by her courage in coming to Israel as a young person by herself, but by her love for extreme sports like snappeling (Israeli slang for rappelling or abseiling) off mountain cliffs. Olga is one of many students on the Bridges for Peace Adoption Program. We help these students with food, a bus pass for unlimited travel, and assistance with extra expenses such as purchasing books needed for their studies.

Another student we helped wrote the following letter to his sponsors.

Dear Sponsors,

I am now graduating from the Adoption Program of Bridges for Peace. I want to sincerely thank you for your help. It is not easy for me because I am a student in Israel who is left without parents. I came to Israel in 1999, finished my schooling here, and then served for three years in the IDF (Israel Defense Force). During my service years in the army, I lost both my parents, who were still living in Russia. First, my mother died of breast cancer, and soon afterwards, my father also died. My sister, with her small son, and I were left alone in Israel. It was at that critical time in our lives that Bridges for Peace extended a helping hand to us.

Thanks to your support I was much relieved from everyday difficulties. Food parcels that we received from you had fresh and tasty food products; and also, the bus pass you gave me saved me hundreds of shekels each month. This wonderful help has made such a big difference in our life, and helped me to progress in the new land and to receive an education in one of the best universities in Israel. Thanks also to your help. I was able to help my sister in taking care of her son.

When you give such help to new immigrants, you also assist them to settle in this new land. May God bless each and every one of you for this invaluable help that you give to people whom you don’t even know and have never met. I am very thankful to you with all my heart.

Nathan

The Jewish Agency says that currently there are 4,000 young immigrant students in financial freefall in Israel. They teeter on the edge financially. If they can succeed in their university career, there is “a future and a hope” for them and their future children. If they fall out of the program due to financial strain, their hopes of a successful future are greatly diminished. We can make the difference for these students. We need several sponsors for each student to provide for their needs. By providing for their most basic needs in these formative years, we not only enable them to have a brighter future, but we communicate Christian care through loving action, which they will never forget. Their children and grandchildren will hear the stories of how Christians cared enough to ensure they finished their education. This is an amazing opportunity for the Church worldwide to break the cycle of hatred, suspicion, and pain between Jews and Christians. We can make a difference in a very special way.

We can help many more students like Nathan and Olga, but we need sponsors. An Adoption Program sponsor commits to give US $50 per month for one year to “adopt” a new immigrant (more than 50% are students) or Israelis in crisis. Upon making the commitment, a profile and photograph will be sent to you, so you can pray for them. A special aspect of the program is the translation of letters between the two parties. It is a wonderful opportunity to build a relationship with new Jewish friends. Please ask the Lord if He wants you to join this vibrant program.

Perhaps you cannot commit to a monthly gift but want to help with a one-time gift. If so, please give to the New Immigrant Fund, which enables us to assist with special needs of new immigrants. Any size gift is most appreciated. Thank you for joining the Lord and Bridges for Peace in the building up of Zion.

“But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer” (Psalm 102:12–17).

Blessings from Jerusalem,

Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO