When Israel became a nation in 1948, absorbing Jewish refugees and immigrants was a priority. On the ministry of Foreign Affairs website we read, “In accordance with the concept of the ‘ingathering of the exiles’ which lies at the heart of Israel’s raison d’être, the gates of the country were thrown open, affirming the right of every Jew to come to the country and, upon entry, to acquire citizenship.”
That first year Israel absorbed over 600,000 Jewish refugees from the Arab world (where they were forcefully ejected), from Europe where they had survived the Holocaust and from nations around the world.
Every year Israel welcomes thousands of new immigrants. Last year 28,400 immigrants arrived from 78 countries. Russian was the most common language with 7,000 coming from Russia and 6,700 from Ukraine.
Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver told Haaretz newspaper: “I am convinced that immigration is a strategic asset for the State of Israel…The more resources we can invest in encouraging and promoting immigration and absorption, the stronger Israel will be.”
Before Israel’s founding fathers, or Sofa Landver, thought about Jewish immigration to Israel, God had ordained the return. Thousands of years ago, biblical prophets told in great detail of God’s plan to bring the Jewish people home to their Promised Land.
“Fear not for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth” (Isa. 43:5–6).
God says, “fear not,” because immigrating is not for the fainthearted. It is difficult on most levels. The immigrants are leaving everything behind, moving to a new country, starting over with nothing and usually don’t speak much (if any) Hebrew. It is daunting.
So, God has called us to come alongside those He is bringing home. Bridges for Peace has been involved in helping immigrants for decades. We have assisted over 61,000 to come to Israel through Project Rescue. Once they arrive we give them welcome gifts—pots and pans, blankets, school kits, and Tanakhs (Hebrew Bibles). We sponsor them on our Adoption Program for one year. Our ongoing food programs continue to minister to their practical needs.
One immigrant mother we helped this year said this:
I would like to express my great gratitude to the organization “Bridges for Peace” and the sponsors who helped our family. Your help, indeed, is very valuable in the first stages of life in a new country, in a new situation when, in addition to the problems with daily bread, there are a lot of other problems. But especially, this help is important for people like our family, who have no relatives in Israel and no other help.
We can only wait for help from the Almighty and people like you. We still remember how, having arrived in Israel in winter, we warmed ourselves at cold nights under a warm blanket received as a gift from you, because we did not bring our own blankets with us.
For a whole year we knew that we could cook a delicious chicken for Shabbat (Sabbath), that in the fridge there is always fresh milk for our child and cereal for the morning porridge, and that for good behavior our child always can get halva or cookies.
But besides the material support, your help also gives very positive emotions, it’s nice to know that there are people with whom we are not even acquainted with, who care for us, who care for new immigrants, who are not indifferent to the Jewish people.
Our Immigrant Welcome Gifts program has shown love to thousands of new immigrants taking their first tentative steps in their new country.
Israel has identified immigration as a strategic asset and God has proclaimed that it is His plan. At Bridges for Peace we have pledged to partner with God in His strategic initiative. We want to continue to assist all who come our way, the families with children, single parents, widows and orphans. Unfortunately our Immigrant Welcome Gifts program budget is low. Without your help we will not be able to welcome the thousands coming this year. Our gifts let them know that they are not alone. Your gift to welcome new immigrants to Israel supports them, the nation of Israel and partners with God. That sounds like a winning plan to me.
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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