Christian Zionists Raise Money to Send 100 Jewish Ukrainians to Israel

A Christian Zionist organization has raised enough money over six weeks to bring 100 Ukrainian Jews to Israel.

Ukraine Odessa
Pro-Russia protesters burn a Ukranian flag outside the district council building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 4. |

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an organization which describes its mission as a "global ministry of Christians" who "share a love and concern for Israel and who seek to repair the historic breach between the Church and the Jewish people," has resettled more than 115,000 Jews from other countries in the Middle Eastern nation.

Most recently, the ICEJ welcomed 19 Ukrainian Jews on Sunday, its first group of Jewish immigrants since Russian military forces appeared in Crimea in February. According to the Jewish Agency for Israel, the country as a whole welcomed 375 new Ukrainian immigrants from January to March, compared to 221 in the same period in 2013.

"I have been to Israel several times to study and visit with family and friends, but I knew it was time to come to stay. And I'm very happy to be here now because of the growing crisis in Ukraine," Daria Granovsky, one of the new immigrants, said in a statement. "There has not been much violence yet where I live in Kiev, but the troubles are getting worse and worse every day and you could sense it was coming our way."

ICEJ's work is rooted in its beliefs that the "scriptures do foresee a time of unparalleled joy and peace being ushered in for Israel."

"The remarkable Messianic prophecies of Isaiah in chapters two, eleven, and sixty reveal this," explains its website. "'Israel's warfare' is indeed about to come to an end and when it does, the whole earth will be amazed...Not even the church has been able to sort this one out! Indeed much of the church today sees no biblical significance in Israel's restoration. They believe it is merely a political accident orchestrated by the United Nations."

ICEJ explained that its current efforts to help members of Ukraine's small Jewish population, (estimates range from 80,000 to 350,000,) have been driven by the surge of Anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups. It has previously helped 42,000 Ukrainians relocate to Israel before, the majority during "the fighting in the Transnistria region along the disputed border with Moldova in 1992."

"The unfolding crisis in Ukraine has meant an even more uncertain future for the Jewish community there, and we have acted swiftly once again to bring needy and endangered Jews home from this troubled region. It is a privilege for our staff to welcome this first group home," Jürgen Bühler, the ICEJ Executive Director, said in a statement.

ICEJ is not the only Christian group working in the Ukraine. On Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported that Odessa's Jewish population of 30,000 was mulling a mass evacuation from the increasingly violent city, a move which was offered support in the form of 70 buses from the humanitarian group, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

While religious leaders have acknowledged that thus far, the fighting has not been directed towards them, they see an evacuation as a preventative measure against any spillover violence.

Rabbi Refael Kruskal who runs the Tikva organization in Odessa, a network of orphanages, schools social services for the city's elderly population, explained after the violence on Friday which killed 31 people, they "closed the [Great Choral] Synagogue."

"We took all the students out of the center of the city where the violence was, because we were worried it was going to spread. We sent a text message to everybody in the community on WhatsApp that they should stay at home over the weekend," he continued.

Kruskal added, "When there is shooting in the streets, the first plan is to take [the children] out of the center of the city. If it gets worse, then we'll take them out of the city. We have plans to take them both out of the city and even to a different country if necessary, plans which we prefer not to talk about which we have in place."

The 68th anniversary of V-E Day falls this week, which is a politically charged day in Ukraine, and some worry the emotions of the day could escalate violence in the already volatile region. According to Russia Today, some of the population cherishes "the legacy of Ukrainian nationalists, who collaborated with the Nazis against Russia, while others see it as a symbol of victory over Nazism and by extension the modern-day nationalists."

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