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From Nice to Israel: ‘I Feel at Home’

Fellowship Freedom Flight from France Welcomed in Israel, July 21, 2016 (Photo: IFCJ)

For so many Jews facing anti-Semitism and violence in Europe, making aliyah (immigrating) to their historic and biblical home in the Holy Land is a dream. Yediot Achronot's Shahar Chai tells the story of one French family who recently found a new home and safety aboard a Fellowship Freedom Flight from Nice, France:

59-year-old Rabbi Lanker and his wife immigrated to Israel from Nice recently, joining three of their children and preceding a fourth in the country; their family feels safer in Israel than their birthplace.

Rabbi Eliyahou Lanker was born in Nice 59 years ago. At the age of ten, he came to Israel alone at learned at a yeshiva in Bnei Brak. "It's what I wanted," he said, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. But the young boy's brave journey lasted but three years before he returned to Nice. Recently, he came full circle when he landed in Israel as a new immigrant, and he has no intention of going back this time.

"It was very hard for me to leave Nice—my parents are buried there—but I think that it's over. France doesn't have any place for Jews today."

Together with the rabbi came 144 new immigrants with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. They received a warm welcome at Ben Gurion Airport, and they each left from there in their own directions to new lives in Israel.

Lanker, a married father of seven and grandfather of 15, was a rabbi in Nice's Jewish community for 20 years. He also taught Talmud at a Jewish school in the city. Up until a few years ago, his synagogue was completely full on the Sabbath, but then something began to change. Congregants said that they were scared to come, and seats began to empty.

"Up until eight years ago, it was fine here for Jews. In recent years, anti-Semitism began. I've already had 'Evil Jew' yelled at me a few times," the rabbi said...

Learn how you can help other Jewish people in peril make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) on a future Fellowship Freedom Flight.

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