Making Aliyah: The Israel Interview Pt 1

we are connecting with many, many Christians around the world that want to come to Israel and discover their roots of their faith and even the Jewish faith and they are coming here because they want to pray, they want to be a part

Israel Interview 1

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” our podcast series that answers all of your missions related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back, guys!

Ron, Charis- Hi, Joy!

Joy- So today’s question is all about Israel. I am wondering exactly what it means to make Aliyah. I don’t know if I said it right!

Ron- Well, I’ll tell you what, that is exactly what it is, it basically is coming home or something of that nature and the reason that I’m hesitating here is this, I knew this question was coming.

Joy- I know I kept asking you!

Ron- I know, so when I was in Israel the last time I sat down with Dani and LuAnne Sayag who pastor up in Haifa region at Mount Carmel Assembly. They are very good friends of ours, a wonderful operation, church, messianic congregation there. An outreach to the various facets of Israeli society today and that would include the Jewish people, Russian-speaking folks that have come in making Aliyah, also to Holocaust survivors, they have outreach to that, everything that you can imagine. They are well-rounded. So I thought, I’m just going to ask them! So I sat Dani and LuAnne down and I gave that very question to them and that is what I would like to have the folks listen to right now.

Joy- Okay, sounds great!

Ron- Welcome everyone! I’m on the top of Mount Carmel in Israel with Dani and LuAnne Sayag who are the pastors of Mount Carmel Assembly. It’s great to have you folks here! We are going to ask them a few questions and they are going to give us a few answers to the questions that you keep asking me when I travel around, all about Israel today. So Dani this spot where we are sitting right now is very significant! Can you tell us about it, just a little bit?

Dani- Yes, so we are on Mount Carmel, the highest point on the mountain and this is the place where Elijah, many years ago confronted the false prophets of Baal and Asherah and they had a competition here on the mountain to see who is the true God and the God who answered by fire is the true God so we know that the false prophets tried to call fire from heaven, they were dancing around their alter, cutting themselves and nothing was happening. Then Elijah came and he took 12 stones, and it says that he repaired the altar of the Lord that was destroyed. And then he had a short prayer and then the fire of God came from heaven and the people of Israel knew in that moment that God is the true God.

Ron- So I see in the sanctuary here a bunch of rocks up at the front, is that sort of a symbolic recreation? Is that the way they designed the sanctuary here?

LuAnne- That is exactly right, so we have 12 stones around the stage representing those 12 rocks that Elijah used and above those 12 rocks we also have like a sun light there which is representing the open heaven and we are waiting always for the fire of God to fall in our midst.

Ron- That’s amazing. That is a well-constructed building on a very famous spot and so you must have a lot of people come here to this location, tours and things like that, is that correct Dani?

Dani- Yes, we are connecting with many, many Christians around the world that want to come to Israel and discover their roots of their faith and even the Jewish faith and they are coming here because they want to pray, they want to be a part and they want to see what God is doing here in the land and so we are privileged to host all the time people from around the world to our Shabbat service and they come to worship and pray and be with us together and it’s such a blessing. That is kind of a fulfillment of one of the visions that it says in Isaiah, it says that my house will be a house of prayer for all nations so it is amazing to see it.

I will say that some are actually running to these nations because they think it’s better financially, security, life will be easier, and coming to Israel you need to have a certain kind of faith that this is our land, these are our people where God wants us.

Ron- Talking about around the world, let’s now shift gears to the topic of this recording and that is the whole subject of making Aliyah. Now we hear it, we don’t understand fully what is going on, but we know it means people are coming home from various parts of the world to Israel. So can you tell our folks what those words mean, making Aliyah.

Dani- So making Aliyah, the word Aliyah in Hebrew is going up so when we talk about the Aliyah in modern Israel, Jewish people from different nations back to their land here in Israel, we have to understand that also from a Biblical perspective, even in the destruction of the first temple God judged his people and sent them out of exile. Then after 70 years, and we can see it in Daniel’s prayer that when the time came, Jewish people came from Babylon, from Persia back to their land. And that was also taking place in the second destruction of the temple but this time God sent his people all over the world and for 2000 years they were in exile and now it’s the time where God says this is the time to bring my people back to the land. So this is amazing to see, people from every nation, Jewish people from every nation coming back to their land. And actually when my parents did Aliyah my father came from Iraq and my mother from Algeria and if you come to the congregation you will see many new immigrants coming from different nations and specifically at this time we see a major Aliyah from Russia and from Ukraine.

Ron- I can see why, because they are running from the war but why are they running back here? Why don’t they run somewhere else? Why don’t they run to Australia? What is the reason?

Dani- I will say that some are actually running to these nations because they think it’s better financially, security, life will be easier, and coming to Israel you need to have a certain kind of faith that this is our land, these are our people where God wants us. So you will see many immigrants coming not just because of financial issues because here it is difficult, but they come here because something is burning in their heart to come back to the land of their fathers.

Ron- So God is actually drawing them. It’s one of those Biblical miracles about fulfillment of prophecy. Okay, LuAnne, I see just from my study that a lot of these folks that are coming back are Russian-speaking. When did this start with the Russians coming in volume?

LuAnne- Okay, so the first Russian Aliyah, I’m talking about our modern history, since the creation of the state of Israel was in the 1990s, it started in 1990 when was right about the time that the Soviet Union broke up and so that opened the door for millions, how many came Dani?

Dani- One million came.

LuAnne- One million came in that Aliyah and it changed the face of Israel from that point all of a sudden and also a lot of them came to Haifa so there are certain pockets of Haifa that became very, very Russian-speaking and also it affected our congregation as well because we have a big Russian-speaking population in our congregation.

Ron- Wow, now when you say that they came in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 whatever the case may be, do you think that there is something still up there that in the years to come, and I know that there is a war on and things like that, with Ukraine and they are leaving for that reason, but do you think that this country will have a lot more from Russia coming in the days and weeks to come?

LuAnne- Oh absolutely and it has already started. They have started coming in and some of them miraculously got out I think because they did not want the doctors to leave Russian and so we had many Jewish doctors that got out quickly before the door shut on them at this time. And of course, there are others, people who don’t want to be drafted into the army, into this war, right now are running and so we are having currently another Aliyah and it will continue, it will get bigger.

Ron- Now listen, I have always wanted to come to Israel and live here and probably 20 – 30 generations back I’ve got some Jewish blood in me. Is there any sort of restrictions on the people for coming? What is the rule as to who can come back or who is called a Jew?

Dani- Yeah, so in Israel there is what is called a law of return. So if you can prove that you have a grandfather, grandmother, one of the sides that are Jewish you can make Aliyah and you can get citizenship. But being a Jew it always goes by the mother so even if your mother is Gentile and your father is Jew you are not considered Jew according to the Rabbinical ways but you can still make Aliyah and get all the rights and live here.

Ron- So the ladies again are in the first chair and we get the second chair. This is a worldwide phenomenon so we are used to that. {laughter}

LuAnne- However, it wasn’t that way Biblically right, because we see that with Ruth and Boaz, Boaz was Jewish, Ruth was not but it went on into a Jewish lineage.

Ron- Very good, I’m glad you gave clarification on that. {laughter} One more thing and then we will probably let this section go. When they come back into the land, is it difficult for them, life and getting a job? What are the conditions like when they come because driving around here for the years that I have been here it’s crowded and it’s even more crowded now. It must be a problem!

Dani- Yeah, I had a conversation with my mom recently and when she heard that there are many Jewish people coming back to the land she said, Where are we going to put all of them and we don’t have enough jobs?” and I remember telling her, Listen, God is bringing them, this is His problem and He’s going to take care of them.” So even when we look back on Aliyah in the 90s, now we see the second and third generation that are totally Israeli and totally integrated into what is happening here in the land. But for the new ones, they need to start from scratch. They need to learn the language, they need to find jobs, some of them, even doctors and rocket scientists, if they don’t learn the language they will find themselves in such works like cleaning the streets even. So if you look now at Israel, if you drive you will think wow this is amazing, we are in a good place, many cars and many apartments but the cost of living is just going up and up and actually, Tel Aviv is considered the most expensive city in the world! So young people are really struggling, it is a dream to purchase a house here.

Ron- So when they come back here making Aliyah, coming home, does the government help them at all and for how long? What sort of things do they provide to help these new people coming back?

Dani- It has changed through the years but now they get what we call a basket of different help [JB1] so they will give them for a certain time help with rent, they will give them the ability to go and study Hebrew in what we call Ulpan, it’s a special school and they will try to send them to learn a profession if they need. So there is help that they give but it is limited to a certain time.

LuAnne- Maybe they still get some things without taxes? I’m not sure. In the old days, we were able to get things without taxes.

Ron- Okay, now leaving the government behind now, let’s get down to you. So how do you help these folks that come in? And I’m going to include these Holocaust survivors that came over the years and they are still here, I know they are very elderly now. There are all sorts of outreaches that I know that you do. Can you LuAnne just start to spell them out and Dani throw in other things that she forgets because you’re doing a lot!

LuAnne- So now of course with this new war that started in March with Ukraine and Russia we did have a sudden influx of both refugees and new immigrants come in and we took them, as many as we could, all in. To this day we still have at least 50 and the number keeps changing because we keep having those leave us and then being replaced with other people. It’s a constant flow coming through. We have been so blessed to be able to give them a room, it’s not a five-star hotel, but it’s a room with a bathroom and shower and three meals a day, and a safe place to be. We have also managed to get their children in school so that has been an amazing thing too. During this time and during Covid also, we began making hot meals once a week specifically to give to Holocaust survivors and other elderly and needy all together around this city, believers, unbelievers anybody.

Ron- And there is a lot of needy aren’t there?

LuAnne- There is a lot of needy because of what Dani was saying earlier that the cost of living here is really quite daunting.

Ron- What about clothes, food packages, anything like that?

Dani- So we have a center also that we try to help the community here in Haifa and surrounding. People get food baskets, clothing, and any other help that they need because sometimes new immigrants when they come they have a difficult time to go to the offices and fight bureaucracy so we have people that are helping them in those first steps in the land. So, we felt even before they came that our facility should be helping the first days, the first few months of immigrants coming until they will find their own place. So we feel not only to share with them the love of God, the love of Yeshua, but also to help them in a practical way, to show them the love of Yeshua in a practical way and it really makes a difference.

LuAnne- I just want to add to that, when this war started we received the bulk of these new immigrants and refugees with nothing, they came in with the clothes that were on their back, and like Dani said we have a clothing center so that was easy to take care of but another thing that I think has been significant and many of them have come to join us on Shabbat to worship with us, we have been having worship every day but I think one of the biggest things is that we are praying with them every day if they want it. And just teaching them that we have a Father in Heaven who is providing these things for us and for them and we have also stressed to them that it is the love of God working through people all over the world that gave us the money for us to be able to buy them the food. So we have really been trying to teach them the love of God and the power of prayer.

Ron- When I have been out on a couple of trips here and you were buying them beds and furniture, tables and things like that to help them out, I remember one time when we were out there and the lady gave a question and it was translated so I could understand it and she said, Why are you doing this?” Do you get asked that a lot, sort of what is in you that you want to love so much in these times? And are you free to explain why you love them?

Dani- In Israel there is actually a law that you are supposed to separate if you give something like food and clothing from if you try to induce someone to hear the faith. So we are trying to be careful with that but always they initiate the conversation so when they ask we feel free to share everything with them. So it is very often that people say, Why do you do that?”

Ron- Okay, so that wasn’t just an oddity that I heard, I thought it was regular by the way it sounded.

Dani- And people see the difference because it’s what we call free love. There is no catch and no conditions. And if they want to hear or not hear they will receive that love.

LuAnne- That’s right and they have, in our times talking about how God has been providing for them, you will see them with tears in their eyes, they cry. They walk around with tears in their eyes quite a bit.

Ron- What really touched me is when I went into one apartment and they didn’t have any bedding and the kids were sleeping on the floor and they had a plastic sheet as their cover. And I thought oh boy, that is sad and yet, that is something we can help with. So that is why Empower, we come alongside to help this ministry and we are so glad we found you! You were like the answer to prayer of all time, as to how to give a picture of what Jesus means to a believer in this land, you’re doing a great job. So, this is Mount Carmel Assembly, Dani and LuAnne Sayag and my name is Ron Pearce. Thanks for tuning in today!

[JB1]Just double-checking this is the right phrase?

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