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Rejoicing on Aliyah Day

Yael Eckstein welcomes Freedom Flight

October 11, 2018

I never thought that I would move to Israel. When my husband and I got married, moving half-way across the world was the furthest thing from my mind. I had grown in Chicago my entire life. I went to college in New York and we had chosen New Jersey as the place where we would make our home. But as we started to make plans for the future and thought about starting a family, something felt very wrong.

Out of nowhere it hit me: This was not where I belonged! My body might have been in the US but my soul was telling me that it belonged in Israel. Like God called to Abraham in Genesis 12, telling him to leave everything behind – his country, his home, his family, and his culture – I felt God calling me home to Israel. It was like God got a hold of my heart and would not let go.

God opened my eyes and I knew exactly what I had to do. I had prayed the same traditional prayers that my people have prayed for 2,000 years, ever since we were exiled from Israel. I prayed that God would return us to Jerusalem, to our homeland. And now, I was living in the generation that got to see it.

We are blessed to be able to live this prophecy. How could I turn my back on the prayers of my grandparents and great-grandparents? It was impossible for them to make aliyah (move to Israel), though they longed to with all their heart. How could I forfeit the opportunity?

Two weeks later, my husband and I boarded a plane headed for the Holy Land.

The days and hours leading up to our flight were a bit scary. How would I leave my friends and family? What would we do when we got there? There were a lot of unknowns. But once the plane touched down in Israel, I felt at ease immediately. I knew in my heart of hearts that I had made the right decision. I knew that I was home.

These days, when I see Jewish people come home on The Fellowship’s On Wings of Eagles Freedom Flights, I know that this is God’s plan for all Jews. Just like Isaiah prophesized in the Bible, Christians are bringing Jews to Israel: “they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips” (Isaiah 49:22).

For thousands of years this prophecy seemed utterly impossible and now we are seeing the impossible become reality.

Not every Jewish person comes to Israel like I did – as a choice, as the fulfillment of a dream. As I witness through The Fellowship’s work, so many Jews come from countries where life is no longer safe for them. They come from Arab countries where they fear for their life, from Ukraine where they are plagued by poverty, and from so many other countries where anti-Semitism is dangerously on the rise.

I thank God that together, we are able to bring these Jews home. When they get here, they are welcomed with open arms. Israel is the only country in the world that celebrates its immigrants.

This week, synagogues around the world will read the Torah portion that speaks of Abraham’s journey to Israel. We will celebrate Aliyah Day on October 15th in recognition of the millions of Jews who have made their own journey to Israel. Because when Jewish people come home to Israel, it’s not just immigration; it’s the fulfillment of prophecy and the fruition of a long awaited dream.

Arriving to Israel at Ben Gurion Airport, elderly woman with red hair, holding passport

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