In 1949, the newly reborn State of Israel embarked on a rescue mission to bring the Jews of Yemen to Israel. The operation, which came to be known by two titles, “Operation On Wings of Eagles” and “Operation Magic Carpet,” ultimately resulted in virtually the entire Yemenite Jewish community coming to Israel. They were brought by airplane. I have been told that the Yemenite Jews had never been on an airplane. Their rabbi encouraged them not to be afraid and read them the Scripture from Exodus 19:4, which reads in part, “…I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” Verse 5 continues, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey [could also be translated listen, hear or heed] My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine.” The people calmly entered the planes. By 1950, over 50,000 Yemenite Jews were living in Israel.
Yemenite Jews weren’t the only such population Israel rescued in the first two years of statehood. In all, around 650,000 new immigrants came from all over the Middle East and northern Africa. Rising tensions in their home countries resulted in their property being confiscated, and often they were stripped of citizenship. They came to Israel destitute. Their arrival doubled the Jewish population of Israel and severely stretched the newly formed state’s ability to provide for the new citizens. For years they lived in makeshift tent camps because there simply weren’t apartments for them.
This week, I visited a town in central Israel called Bnei Ayish, which is one of the places where Yemenite Jews were finally settled. Many years later in the 90s, immigrants from Russia joined this town of 7,000 people. Today, the town is roughly split in two between the two population groups with widely divergent cultures.
Unfortunately, there is also a lot of poverty in this small town. The cycle of poverty from penniless immigrants to modern day children and grandchildren has not been broken. Forty-five percent of the population needs help from the Social Welfare department.
The mayor, Arieh Garla, a Yemenite Jew, has a heart for the people of his town. He received us with typical Yemenite hospitality. A homemade breakfast featuring homemade Yemenite bread and dips graced a table in his office. When we told them we would like to add their town to our Adopt an Israeli Town program, which will supply them with pallets of food each month for 100 families, they were so happy. Then we told them we would also like to help those with dental needs (not covered by Israeli socialized medicine). Finally, we found out that they had a desperate need for computers and office equipment. We were able to help with three laptop computers and a scanner/fax machine. We told them we could also bring groups to help clean up and beautify the town. The mayor’s response was beautiful: “Come for two days and stay overnight in our homes.” He opened his heart to us—Christians who represent you!
Another town in Israel has now been impacted by Christians who love the Jewish people, coming and standing with them in their times of need. Thank you for being part of this encounter. Your gifts are making a difference. It is our heart to partner with the Lord to bring the Jewish people home, welcome them and help them thrive in their new homeland. Sometimes it just takes longer. If you want to adopt this town or other towns in need, join our Adopt an Israeli Town program. Your gifts to food, dental assistance and crisis funds allow us to meet real needs with practical answers. Your gifts to our New Immigrant Fund allow us to assist new immigrants. All of it is God’s calling to us—to show support and love to the people of Israel through practical assistance.
Remember the words of Jesus (Yeshua): “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40b).
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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