For many centuries Moscow has been the heartbeat of Russia. Since 2000 another heart has been beating there: Ebenezer’s work of bringing the message of aliyah to the biggest concentration of Jewish people in the whole of the former Soviet Union. One estimate puts the Jewish population of Moscow and the surrounding region at 200,000 but the figure could well be double that number. Because of this potential ‘harvest’, the Lord led Ebenezer to establish a fishing outreach base in the Russian capital. Then regional offices were opened in Yaroslavl, Voronezh and Bryansk to work among Jewish people living in a 700 km radius of Moscow. In more recent times Ebenezer has helped more Jews to leave central Russia than from any other part of the Russian Federation.
Ebenezer – Operation Exodus helps Jewish people to return to Israel on more flights from Moscow than anywhere else in the former Soviet Union. The Moscow team will always remember Sunday 13 September 2009 because on that golden day they played a significant part in helping Jewish people to join nine aliyah flights to Tel Aviv.
Base drivers and staff meet between 50 and 180 Jewish people each month as they arrive at six railway stations and four airports. From there they are either taken to the Israeli consulate as part of their aliyah process or, if they are departing for Israel, are taken to join their flights to Tel Aviv.
Very friendly, open and trusting relationships have been established with Jewish organisations which enables our local representatives and ‘fishermen’ to seek out and help more Jewish families in their regions.
A vital aspect is the growing support for our ministry from churches in the region. Attitudes of many pastors were changed after they attended seminars held by EEF Moscow leaders Boris and Elia, formerly leaders in Khabarovsk. At these seminars, called Israel and the Church, many Christians responded by becoming fishermen, prayer partners and local representatives. Boris also regularly leads trips to Israel for Christian leaders and many have gone back to their churches transformed by what they have seen in the Land – and eager for their congregations to become involved in the work of aliyah.
Close to our team’s heart are the Holocaust survivors. Through a special Ebenezer project medicines were bought for a number of them and given to them at the Moscow office and in their homes.
Distributing matzo, the main Passover symbol, to communities in towns around Moscow for this wonderful Jewish feast is another aspect of the work. Many people are unable to come to Moscow to buy it so Ebenezer does so and in presenting it are able to link the exodus from Egypt which the feast commemorates to the present–day exodus from all over the world, including the land of ‘the north’ (Isaiah 43:6). Over 1,000 Jewish families in 30 towns received matzo in 2010 and many said they were interested in making aliyah.
In 2000 Ebenezer – Operation Exodus set up a base in Pyatigorsk, northern Caucasus, the city in the heart of what leader Anya calls ‘a special region’. It is special, she says, because firstly it covers five different republics and Stavropol region, all with their own cultural, political and economic features. Secondly, this vast area is populated both by Ashkenazi (European Jews) and Tats (Mountain Jews). Both require special knowledge of their customs and traditions, along with a sensitive approach, to build up trust and enable us to share the message of aliyah with them.
It is a volatile region, so Anya and her co–workers need constant prayer. In the first three weeks of January alone there were three terrorist attacks in Dagestan. Ingushetia and Chechnya also lie within the region and while these centres of terrorism are closed to our team they are a constant reminder of life being very dangerous. Ebenezer, in fact, helps Jewish refugees from Chechnya, scene of much fighting, as well as those who seek safety from other places.
‘The peculiarities of the work carried out here cannot be compared with any other region,’ says Anya, adding that this could be the reason why the Lord has gathered together a team of people so different from each other. ‘I am thankful to the Lord for His wonderful plan for each one of us and for the unity that binds us together.’
Much patience is needed to break down the walls of suspicion Jews have towards Christians. Yet those walls have been coming down and more of the Jewish people the team meet and befriend, often over a long period, are grateful for Ebenezer’s care and attention in helping them make aliyah.
Co–operation with Jewish organisations has increased Ebenezer’s standing in the region. One of our recent initiatives is the Birthdays project, where the team give elderly people gifts on their special day. The recipients are so thankful for this love and support.
Our team is constantly looking for open doors and open hearts in churches throughout the area to share God’s plan for the Jewish people so that they become involved in helping them move to the Promised Land.
Intro, The Russian Federation, Siberia > > Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg > > Moscow, Pyatigorsk > > Rostov–on–Don, Ukraine > > Moldova, Armenia, Georgia > > Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan > > Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, The work of our bases in the former Soviet Union > >