by Charles Gardner —
Apocalyptic scenarios involving the expansion of the Ukraine War have captured the attention of the media. But rather less focus has been trained on Jewish refugees attempting to flee Russia and Ukraine after nearly a year of gruesome hostilities there.
Also coinciding with a massive increase in worldwide antisemitism, the return to their ancient homeland of Jewish people from the four corners of the world is a key aspect of end-time biblical prophecy (see, for example, Isaiah 11:11f & 49:12, Jeremiah 23:7f & 31:8; Ezekiel 36:24). And Christians are called to help with the process.
For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms, and carry your daughters on their hips.” (Isaiah 49:22)
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February 24th, some 70,000 Jewish people have made Aliyah (i.e. returned to Israel) from the region, mostly from Russia and the Ukraine.
But they need help with documents and many other aspects of immigration in order to do so, which has added a huge amount of pressure on the teams working on their behalf. This is where Christian organizations like Ezra International and Ezra UK come in.
As refugees flooded into neighboring countries in the first month of the war, Ezra’s small Moldova-based team helped almost 2,000 Ukrainian Jews leave for Israel – compare that with the total of 83 immigrants they assisted throughout the previous year.
“Now the numbers are off the scale,” says Pat Frame, who has been helping Jews make Aliyah for nearly four decades and is now CEO of both aforementioned ministries.
Pat is effectively dealing with a Second Exodus – not this time involving Jews fleeing slavery in Egypt but escaping ongoing persecution all over the world, especially in the former Soviet Union.
Pat left her native Scotland and initially worked in Holland with Bible smuggler Brother Andrew. She first got involved with Aliyah after reading the book Exodus II by Steve Lightle predicting a mass exodus of Jews from Communist countries (which did not, of course, take place until post-1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of Soviet society).
“Following a visit to Edinburgh by Steve, one lady started a prayer group for the Soviet Jews and I joined that. It was actually a prayer and action group. We prayed for Refuseniks¹ and believers in prison while also campaigning for them. It eventually took over my life, and I went back to university for an intense one-year course in Russian language – the hardest thing I’ve ever done!”
Ezra focuses on sourcing papers and documents to prove Jewish identity as many are affected by issues around name changes and the destruction of archives. Another emphasis involves helping those struggling financially. For although the wall of communism eventually fell, the wall of poverty often still holds them back. Others need medical help, transport or accommodation. The flights, however, are mostly paid for by Israel’s Jewish Agency.
Although Ezra began operating in Ukraine in 1995, they have since expanded to many other Eastern bloc countries as well as Latin America, Germany and France. They now have representatives in 14 countries, but have assisted with Aliyah from at least 30.
“Now we are beginning to deal with more Russian refugees – all on top of our ‘normal’ Aliyah work,” Pat adds. “And there are currently long waiting lists for consular appointments. The Ukraine team is also having to deal with power outages along with the sounds and effects of war, while continuing to help as they can with transport to safer places from where they can travel on to Israel.
“It’s a huge challenge and there is great pressure, but this is a time with almost unprecedented opportunities to support our Jewish brothers and sisters in their return ‘home’ to Israel from the biblical lands of the north.”
Further information about the work, including a nine-minute video, is available on their websites at https://ezrainternational.org
1 Usually Jewish people in the former Soviet Union forbidden to emigrate to Israel