by: Janet Aslin
Monday, 3 October 2022 | In light of the worsening situation within Russia, yesterday the Israeli government approved a budget of NIS 90 million (roughly US $25 million) to provide additional help for Russian Jews seeking to make aliyah (return to Israel).
Since its rebirth in 1948, the modern State of Israel has welcomed the return of Jews from around the world. Recognizing the difficulty of pulling up stakes and reestablishing their lives in a new country, Israel provides an aliyah “basket” of financial benefits during the initial period when the new immigrants need special assistance. At times, the normal budget for aliyah does not cover all the expenses. This is one of those times.
The budget submitted by Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata addressed the additional costs that will be incurred to bring these olim (immigrants) home and help them adapt and adjust to their new lives. Skyrocketing costs for airline tickets along with a limited number of flights from Russia to Israel are a major obstacle.
In an alternative to direct flights from Russia, the Israeli government is looking into the establishment of refugee camps in Finland or Azerbaijan as an intermediate stop on the way home. These countries, which border Russia, have regular flights to Israel, which have not been affected by the rise in prices.
Another dilemma is the current judicial action the Russian government has taken against the Jewish Agency, whose role is to help Jews make aliyah. The Russian Justice Ministry has accused the Jewish Agency of violating Russian laws and is seeking to prevent it from operating in the country. The trial, which began in mid-July, has been delayed several times, with October 19 set as the next hearing.
One of the factors that has spurred the recent surge in aliyah was President Vladimir Putin’s announcement in late September that 300,000 reserve troops will be mobilized to bolster the war effort in Ukraine. That announcement added urgency to the 40,000 Russian Jews who hold approved immigration visas and the 15,000 who are in the process of applying.
In addition to the 55,000 who have been approved or are in the application process, the Jewish Agency estimates there are roughly three times as many Russian Jews who could make aliyah. Under Israel’s Law of Return, only one Jewish grandparent is needed to be eligible for citizenship.
The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption is preparing to receive tens of thousands of olim over the next three months. There is a shortage of new immigrant housing and the Jewish Agency is considering reopening some of the absorption centers that were closed. It is certain that the additional funds approved yesterday are needed and will be put to good use.
Bridges for Peace welcomes new immigrants—many who arrive without the means to start a new life in their new homeland—with a generous gift package including blankets, school kits for the children, pots, pans, kitchen utensils and a copy of the Tanach (Gen.–Mal.). Your generous gift to our New Immigrant Fund will help us bless these families with the means to start rebuilding their lives. More importantly, it will let them know that they are welcomed in Israel by Christians who believe God’s promise to bring His people back to His Land.
Posted on October 3, 2022
Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 3, 2022)
Photo Credit: Michio Nagata/bridgesforpeace.com
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