Over the past year and a half, The Fellowship and our donors have helped thousands of Jews escape war, anti-Semitism, and extreme poverty by making aliyah (immigrate to Israel) aboard our Freedom Flights. Once in their historic home in the Holy Land, these new olim (immigrants) continue to receive help as they settle into their new lives. Each one of them – from these five countries, and many more around the world – is grateful for the care and compassion shown by our faithful friends and supporters.
Eda’s face was glowing when she stepped off the plane in Israel and was united with her fiancé at the airport. Although Eda’s biggest reason for making aliyah from Turkey was to be with her fiancé, she knew she needed to leave Turkey because she couldn’t stand the mistreatment of Jews.
“I feel very bad saying this, but, right now, the Turkish people don't like the Jewish people. They don't want to live with Jewish people. This is because of the Prime Minister and radical Islam. When you walk on the street, you see a lot of women dressed in the burka (a full body cloak worn by some Muslim women). Ten years ago there were Muslims and Jews living together peacefully in Turkey. We didn't see women dressed like this. I believe they're trying to show that Turkey is a Muslim country now. This is very disturbing to the Jewish community.”
While Eda is leaving behind her friends and family, she is excited for her new life and thankful to The Fellowship for helping her along the way. She says: “I want to thank you for helping me come here and for showing me the way. Thank you very much.”
Marcel made aliyah on a Fellowship Freedom Flight from Uruguay in order to reunite with family – his 20-year-old son who is serving with the IDF.
While Uruguay is where much of his relatives still live, and while it is not as unsafe for Jews as many countries, he says, “There is some anti-Semitism, but it's not pervasive. I'm not coming to Israel because I'm running away from anything. I'm coming here because this is where my son is and this is where I see my future."
But in order to be a support for his son, Marcel needed some support of his own. He says the aliyah process was very smooth and easy. "I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart how much I appreciate The Fellowship. Without The Fellowship I never would have been able to come to Israel. My financial situation isn't so good and I simply wouldn't have been able to make the move without your help.”
The situation for Jews where Mikael and Johana come from was much different than Marcel’s. In France, attacks against Jewish people – including the kosher supermarket attack in 2015 that left four dead – have become all too commonplace.
That is the main reason the young couple decided to leave Paris with their three young children. Mikael says of himself and his wife, “We were born in France, our friends are there and we had work there. However, the time was finally right for us. There are a lot of problems in France. Anti-Semitism has become very prevalent. When there's a problem there, we don't even want to go to the police because we don't feel they'll do anything to solve it. It's completely different here in Israel. Coming here is like a family reunion for me. I felt alone when we were in France. The Jewish people have their own land and we all need to be here. There's no country like Israel. I'm proud to finally be Israeli.”
Now that their Freedom Flight has landed and their new life has begun, the young family hopes “that eventually all the Jewish people will live here and dance with the Messiah when he comes.”
Like thousands of Iraqi Jews, Abraham was forced from his native country in the middle of the 20th century, originally making aliyah when he was only four. After a career with Israel’s Border Police, keeping the Jewish state safe, Abraham retired. He then moved to Bolivia, where he has two young children.
But the loving father has realized that Bolivia is not an easy place to raise a Jewish family. "It was so difficult for me. I was only able to hold on because of the children. I want to live a Jewish life here in Israel together with the Jewish people. I want my children to have a better economic future than they had in Bolivia.”
Now, thanks to Fellowship supporters and a Freedom Flight from Bolivia, Abraham, along with 11-year-old Mijal and 10-year-old Kobi, have that future. “If they wouldn't have helped,” Abraham says, “I wouldn't have been able to make aliyah. God should bless The Fellowship and its donors. You've done a great mitzvah (good deed).”
While many of these olim have made aliyah because of their family, 26-year-old Joana came to Israel from the Spanish city of Melilla in hopes of starting a family of her own.
“There's not a supportive Jewish community in Melilla for a Jew who wants to live a religious life,” Joana says. “It's a very small city with only 800 Jews. There are a few synagogues, one Jewish school, and some stores where it's possible to buy kosher food. It's not very much. It's what the community needs, but I want more.”
And thanks to The Fellowship, Joana now has the life she dreamed of. After studying the Bible in a Jewish college for women, she is now training to be a dental assistant and looking forward to a life where she can live and worship freely. And while the young woman admits that her "transition into the Israeli culture won't be easy,” The Fellowship continues to help her. “The entire Fellowship staff is very nice. They were all very helpful at every stage of the process. Thank you for helping make this possible.”